Donso Hunters’ Music

Donso hunters have their own musician and musical genre, based on the fascinating 6-stringed harp-lute called donson’goni. This song is called N’Tenen, and  it is performed for killers of lions, buffalos and hippos only. Furthermore, they must have killed a dankoroba, an old solitary male. To kill one is hunting at a superior level, for solitary animals are considered more dangerous and able to perform magic just like powerful sorcerers. Diakari Traoré is the main voice and donson’goni, Bakari Ouattara accompanies and Mohamed Ouattara and Mohamed Diabaté play the metallic rattle called negeshien. Recorded with two Rode NT55 to Sound Devices 744T.

Maana is a term that designs a chronicle of deeds, and in this area has the specific meaning of the praises of a great hunter, including the enumeration of his remarkable kills. I present here an excerpt from the praises of my teacher Adama Traoré, performed by his son Diakalia with Bakari and Mohamed Ouattara. This fragment is recorded with DSM microphones in Sony PCM-D50 recorder.

There is a group in Samogogwan that interprets donso music in a unique way. The idea of adding the Samogo balafon and drums to the donson’goni was originally of the donsoba of Samogogwan, Batara Traoré. The group started its activities under his influence in the early eighties, and took its name from the leading personality and donson’goni player Massa Konaté (now deceased). They performed in France and Belgium in 1992 and 1998, during a two months long tour. In 2005 they acquired their present formation and name. Yere Majigi means, in Jula, diminish yourself, with reference to a attitude of humility in front of a teacher. The group plays in the Samogogwan area for authorities, weddings, funerals or hunters’ ceremonies, and participates to national culture festivals like the Semaine Nationale de la Culture. This video I shot in Samogogwan on October the 29th, 2010. Musicians are: Lacole Hamadou Traoré – balafon, Diakari Traoré – donson’goni and leading voice, Sie-Bakari Ouattara – donson’goni and accompanying voice, Fuseni Traoré – negeshien and donsoflé, Tiemogo Traoré – negeshien, Daouda Traoré – longa, Moussa Traoré – longa.


The music of the hunters is available as part of the bonus content of my documentary Kalanda – The Knowledge of the Bush: nine tracks by Diakalia Traoré and Bakari Ouattara and six by the Yere Majigi orchestra, for almost two hours of recordings.