The Balafon

The Balafon, a wood keyed percussion instrument of Bene wood, has an oral history which dates it at least to the rise of the Mali empire. They keys (17-21) are fixed to a solid base and graduated sized sound resonator gourds hang below the keys. To make sound the keys are struck with two gum-rubber-wound mallets. The Balafon is capable of making 18 to 21 notes, sometimes fewer and is tuned based on the musicians culture.

Here you can see and hear the beautiful Balafon

The National Anthem of Senegal
Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons
Everyone strum your koras, strike the balafons
Lyrics by: Léopold Sédar Senghor goes like this:

Everyone strum your Koras, strike the Balafons.
The red lion has roared.
The tamer of the savannah
Has leapt forward,
Dispelling the darkness.
Sunlight on our terrors, sunlight on our hope.
Stand up, brothers, here is Africa assembled.

Fibres of my green heart,
Shoulder to shoulder, my more-than-brothers,
O Senegalese, arise!
Join sea and springs, join steppe and forest!
Hail mother Africa, hail mother Africa.

Senegal, you the son of the lion’s froth,
Sprung from the night to the gallop of horses,
Give us, oh! give us the honour of our ancestors,
Splendid as ebony and strong as muscle,
We say it clearly – the sword has no flaw.


Senegal, we take on your great work:
To shelter the chicks from the falcons,
To make, from east to west, north to south,
Arisen, one single people, a people without seams,
But a people turned to all the winds of the earth.


Senegal, like you, like all our heroes,
We will be hard without hatred, with two open arms.
The sword in peace-time we will store in the scabbard,
For work and words will be our weapon.
The Bantu is a brother, and so is the Arab and the White.


But if the enemy burns our borders
We will be risen with weapons in our hands:
One people defying all sorrows with its faith,
Young and old, men and women.
Death, yes! We say death, but not shame.


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