Togo: Traditional Instruments of Africa

About Music in Togo

Togolese music includes a great variety of percussion-led dance music. Songs and music are used in rituals and religious ceremonies, to pass down stories from generation to generation, as well as to sing and dance to. Traditional music in most of Africa is passed down orally (or aurally) and is not written.



Talking Drums

Talking Drums originated from West African countries such as Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger. They were used as a means of communication that could be heard from far far away throughout the kingdoms, thus the name "Talking Drums." 



The balafon is a wooden instrument originated primarily from Mali and all countries around the Sahara desert. 
They come in various keys and were tuned mostly in pentatonic notes.



The large calebasse, calabash, shekere or gourd are grown around the mighty Nile river particularly from Niger. The Togolese use them as table drums, shakers beside their multi purpose.


Kora and Ngni

Kora and Ngni are string instruments originated from Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Fasso etc.

Koras are played just like a harp while the Ngoni is like the banjo. In fact, Ngoni gave birth to the banjo.



Djembe drums, kpalogo samba drums and many others are also found throughout West African countries.


Many other percussion instruments originated from Africa depending on the regions. The continent of Africa is tremendously influenced by music and cultures.


Togo, a West African nation on the Gulf of Guinea, is known for its palm-lined beaches and hilltop villages. Koutammakou, inhabited by the Batammariba people, is a traditional settlement of fortresslike clay huts dating to the 17th century. In the capital, Lomé, are the multistory Grand Marché bazaar and the Fetish Market, offering traditional talismans and remedies relating to the vodun (voodoo) religion.


Togo's culture reflects the influences of its 37 tribal ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the Ewe, Mina, and Kabye. French is the official language of Togo, but many native African languages are spoken there as well.


Staple foods found in the Republic of Togo include plantain, beans, yam, millet and rice. But maize (corn) is the most commonly used of all staples in Togolese cuisine. Fish and seafoods comprise a major source of protein. Additional sources of protein come from “bush meat” – small to medium-sized wild animals – amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles – which are hunted for consumption.


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