Music of Equatorial Guinea

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Fang-Beti side-blown trumpet

Equatorial Guinea's culture has been less documented than most African countries, and commercial recordings remain scarce.

National music[edit]

The national anthem of Equatorial Guinea was written by Atanasio Ndongo Miyone and adopted in 1968, when the country gained independence from Spain [1]. Equatorial Guinea was carved out of three former Spanish colonies: Río Muni, a strip of land between Cameroon and Gabon; Bioko, an island near Cameroon; and Annobón, an island in the Atlantic Ocean far from the mainland.

Traditional music[edit]

The largest ethnic group are the Fang (85.7% (1994 census) of a total 704,001 (July 2013 est.)), with 6.5% Bubi and smaller populations of Mdowe (3.6%), Annobonese (1.6%) and Bujeba (1.1%),[1] including smaller groups such as the Ndowe, the Bisio and the Combe.

The Fang are known for their mvet, a cross between a zither and a harp. The mvet can have up to fifteen strings. The semi-spherical part of this instrument is made of bamboo and the strings are attached to the center by fibers. Music for the mvet is written in a form of musical notation that can only be learned by initiates of the bebom-mvet society. Music is typically call and response with a chorus and drums alternating. Musicians like Eyi Muan Ndong have helped to popularize folk styles.

A three- or four- person orchestra consisting of some arrangement of sanza, xylophone, drums, zithers and bow harps accompanies the many dances in Equatorial Guinea, such as the balélé and the risque ibanga.[2]

Another popular instrument is the tam-tam, a wooden box covered with animal skin. In its center are bamboo keys installed with complete musical scales. A second type of tam-tam has two different levels of musical keys. Generally, wooden musical instruments are decorated with fauna images and geometric drawings. Drums are covered with animal skins or animal drawings.[3]

Popular music[edit]

There is little popular music coming out of Equatorial Guinea. Pan-African styles like soukous and makossa are popular, as are reggae and rock and roll. Acoustic guitar bands based on a Spanish model are the country's best-known indigenous popular tradition, especially national stars Desmali and Dambo de la Costa.[4]

Other musicians from Equatorial Guinea include Malabo Strit Band, Luna Loca, Chiquitin, Dambo de la Costa, Ngal Madunga, Lily Afro and Spain-based exiles like Super Momo, Hijas del Sol and Baron Ya Buk-Lu [es].


  1. ^ C.I.A. World Factbook, "Equatorial Guinea", at
  2. ^ "Equatorial Guinea". Archived from the original on 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2005-05-29.
  3. ^; Retrieved 12/08/1998
  4. ^ "Desmali" (in Spanish).
  • Guinea Ecuatorial [2]
  • [3]
  • Dominguez, Manuel. "Malabo Blues". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 477–479. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0