Initiates of the 1996 year play the kwatarzhya.
Tləsəku Barka plays the kwatarzhya.
The kwatarzhya concert party on the evening of the 28th of August, 1996.
Two mangərai players at a dance
A quintet of mangərai players, one wearing ankle rattles (see below), from Damay.
A Kigi elder blows a tom dlə.
Philip Sukur blows the litku he has just made.

Flutes and whistles are played by members of both castes — but we cannot remember girls or women using them although if they do not this would be unusual in terms of regional practices.

1. Kwatarzhya A four-hole flute that used to be made from bark slipped off the branches of mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) trees when it is soft in the early rains. They are blown from the side of the mouth across the open tube. Nowadays kwatarzhya are made of lengths of plastic tubing of different diameters and thus different registers. They are usually played in ensembles of up to six players and are associated with initiates and the ‘Bër initiation ceremony, rarely if ever being played at other times of the year.

Compare the playing of some of the 1996 initiates with that of an ensemble of recognized players we invited to play one evening in the same year. They include Tləsəku Barka, Hundu Tlagama, Zachariah Po, Kwata Midala and John Depe, with Hausa Zirangkwade on some tracks.

This short clip is of the initiates. (There is some wind noise).

Some of the quintet’s/sextet’s tracks are accompanied by a cicada chorus that had earlier forced us to abandon recording.

Here are samples of their music, beginning with a track made early in the evening when the cicadas were still singing. The combination behind the lead player produces an effect similar to yodeling.

This track was made later.

And this one ends in ‘baboon style‘.

In 2002 the Ocora label produced a CD Cameroun: flutes des Monts Mandara (B000003IG1), available through Amazon and other sources.

2. Mbuli a vertical cow horn flute with two, perhaps sometimes four, finger holes and an embouchure built up of a resinous substance.

3. Carak A flute made of antelope horn with one hole in the rear. It was used to rally warriors.

4. Təghatəgha A wooden flute not seen by us; it is said to have been used in warfare.

5. Mangərai A one-note wooden whistle that is held vertically. Different lengths and diameters produce different tones. It can be made by anyone and is blown by ensembles of several (probably ideally six) players.

During the dances associated with the Ɓər initiation ceremonies, mangərai ensembles, daŋ drummers (see below) and singers perform on the Patla, without overall direction but with each group or individual contributing to the overall effect.

6. Tom-may and Tom-dlə  A buffalo or cow horn blown as shown on the right and used for driving baboons from the fields and for announcing deaths.

7. Litku  A cross-blown clarinet made by children from a segment of a fresh millet stalk. This is found from Senegal to Chad and is widely associated with the cereal harvest.


Culture Of The Mandara Mountains.