Monday, 12 June 2023

Ernie's African Odyssey Pt 5 - Burkina Faso

Stop 5 of 55 today. But first, a big thank you to David Graham, who got in touch after my appeal for help last week and has tipped me off to a veritable treasure trove of groovy sounds. He's a man with his finger on the pulse.

Now is also a good time to pay tribute to the mighty Moos at Global Groove, the go to place for vintage African albums. A fair few of the records in my collection were first found there.

Thanks yous done, its on with the tour, and we've arrived in Burkina Faso. 

It's hard not to think kindly of a country whose capital city rejoices in the name Ouagadougou. There is no evidence that the residents push pineapples or shake the trees, but some may grind coffee (Burkina Faso is the 55th largest coffee producing country). What you can be sure of is that they jump up and down and bend their knees when grooving to the sounds of the late great Georges Ouédraogo. It is impossible not to. 

Georges is widely considered one of the founding fathers of modern Burkinabe music. From some reason he didn't make the cut for Analog Africa's otherwise excellent compilation "Bambara Mystic Soul - The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974 - 1979", available on Bandcamp for €10 in digital format. The Issouf Compaoré track is just one of the many stand-outs on the album. 

The Bambara are an ethnic group found predominantly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. One of their number, Serge Bambara, is better known as Smockey, a hip hop artist and political activist (he was a co-founder of the grassroots movement called Le Balai Citoyen which helped to bring down President Blaise Compaoré  in  2014). As you can tell by the song title, Smockey does not suffer fools gladly.

By contrast, Amity Meria's very name suggests friendship and harmony (or the house on the hill depending on your disposition). She was big in the 1990s and early 2000s and judging by the scant information I can find about her was still making music at least up to 2016. Let's hope she is still going strong.

I am not sure whether the final track can strictly be classified as MAR (Mandatory African Reggae) but certainly MAR-adjacent. Pierre Sandwidi was known as "the troubadour from the bush", and this track comes from his 1990s album "Vol. 3", reissued by my old pal Awesome Tapes From Africa. You can also find an example of his earlier work on the "Bambara Mystic Soul" compilation.

"Gnou Zemes" - Georges Ouédraogo

"Dambakale" - Issouf Compaoré

"L'imbécilité Humaine" - Smockey

"Biye Biye" - Amity Meria

"Boanga President" - Pierre Sandwidi

All of today's videos (and many more) can be found on the excellent Tackborse YouTube channel, decidated solely to the music of Burkina Faso. The first video has rapidly become a favourite round here. 


  1. Idak Bassave : why is that she and her friends can do minimal arm and body moves that can appear sensual and groovy but when I try it I look like a robot having a stroke?

    1. I'm sure the other robots in A&E find you sensual and groovy

  2. For the record I am enjoying this series and building up a rather good playlist