KETEKPE de Koloware, percussion from Central Togo

Today's post takes us to central Togo, to the prefecture of Tchaoudjo, more precisely to the village of Koloware, located about 20km east of the regional capital of Sokode. This cassette, one of a batch I picked up ten years ago in Sokode, is a compilation of Ketekpe songs from the village of Koloware.

Ketekpe is a musical style that was created in the 1950s by the singer Morou Akoumbe, who slowed down the popular Lawa rhythm to create the new genre.  In early 1972, when Morou performed for the enthronement of Chief Kanta of Koumonde his new rhythm created a sensation.  Over the next thirty years the Ketekpe became one of the most popular rhythms of the Tem, the majority ethnic group in central Togo (there are also Tem populations in neighoring Ghana and southern Burkina Faso).

Ketekpe is first and foremost a vocal style, accompanied by small percussion ensembles like the one pictured above (the group in the picture is not the ensemble featured on the cassette, but is a ketekpe group).

Ketekpe de Koloware

Here it is.  Enjoy 90 minutes of Ketekpe.  This music slowly draws you in, it is well worth listening to the end. The first side of the cassette features more vocals and the second side has some fantastic percussion (the recording quality is also somewhat better on the second side, especially the last thirty minutes).  The lyrics seem to be social commentary and proverbial wisdom.  On the A side there is one song that has the French chorus, 'la guerre n'est pas bon, tout le monde est cadavrer', which includes the beautifully poetic transformation of the french noun 'cadavre' into the verb 'cadavrer', to become a cadaver.

I shamelessly lifted the pictures of Koloware from this blog.


  1. your site is fantastic i love everything. esp in love with the unreleased baaba maal cass. but each post is incredible and has brought joy to hard times.
    there is something magic about cassettes, i think.

  2. Thanks very much for your encouraging feedback Robert. Yeah. Once i start playing the Baaba Maal cassette i get sucked in for several repeat listenings.


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