The Bobo Beat

Story offer: words & pictures

Location: Bobo Dioulasso, the second city of Burkina Faso

Subject: a highly musical town in the heart of West Africa

Title: The Bobo Beat

In a dusty old town in one of the world’s poorest countries, music reigns. To visit Bobo Dioulasso is to hit a musical high – in this town the beat goes on from dawn till the early hours, whether via cassette shops, in the markets, in homes, on the streets or in a multitude of cafes, bars and nightclubs. Take your pick from a gamut of local guitar and percussion styles plus lashings of reggae and rap mutated into local genres. West African music has been on the world map since the arrival of Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita in the 1980s. Nowhere in the region, however, can beat Bobo for listening pleasure: it’s a relaxed, laid-back, safe and walkable town where a night out has endless choices, all of them pleasantly open air in this low-rain savanna region. Make for Les Bambous and its palm court for the best live bands featuring virtuoso Burkina percussion. At the weekend, hit a home-brewed beer garden for impassioned impromptu drumming and singing, or catch a dazzling outdoor wedding celebration with choirs of richly robed female praise singers.

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