For us, for our village, we will never stop. We will play the balafon until the end of the world.

Bassidi and Kalifa Koné are cousins and are of Bwa ethnicity, from the San region near Segou in Mali. Born into a musical, Griot (djeli) family, they grew up beside their father’s traditional instrument, the bala (otherwise known as a balafon, a wooded xylophone-like instrument), instilling in them their forefather’s traditional village songs and rhythms.IMG_2284

As Griots in their community, (oral keepers of history and tradition), Bassidi and Kalifa revisit, through their own arrangements and instrumentation, the sound of their elders and ancestors with the greatest respect. They uphold their rich, musical heritage by promoting and preserving rhythms, melodies and songs that have been passed down through generations, and represent the identity, spirituality, and cultural richness of their Bwa ethnicity.

Upon this traditional music base, Bassidi and Kalifa now innovate, bringing their beloved balafon to new, dynamic realms with coloured fusions of jazz, blues, funk, and Latin genres.

Bassidi and Kalifa are a dynamic duo who delight audiences with their awe-inspiring musical expression and virtuosity. As ambassadors of their family’s Bobo balafon and their musical heritage, they promote to the world a core family value of theirs, Waseniwai, which means ‘unity and solidarity through support and acceptance of each other’.

DOCUMENTARY: Stars of the Bobo Balafon

Directed and produced by Paul Chandler (

In this short documentary (see below), Madou Koné speaks with his son and nephew, Bassidi Koné and Khalifa Koné. This is the second in a collection of short films exploring Endangered Musical Traditions and Essential Related Art-Forms in Mali, produced by Paul Chandler (

Embedded in the songs, stories and ceremonies that are interpreted by artists and accompanied by traditional instruments, are lessons that advise or remind people about what is important in life. They explain the origins of inter-ethnic cooperation and family ties, and dictate appropriate behavior in disputes and reconciliation strategies.

Produced & Directed by Paul Chandler
Director of Photography, Video & Sound Editing: Brian David Melnyk
Production Coordinator, Still Photography, Translation : Amsatou Diallo
Sound Recording: Kouassi Konan

© i4africa

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