Laméca file

Cuban Abakuá music



Abanékue : Abakuá members (those without titles). See ‘Obonékue’. In the Efik language of Calabar : àbàn ‘admitted’ into Ékpè ‘the leopard society’.

Baróko : a ceremony to initiate title-holders, during which a goat is sacrificed. Abakuá term.

Biankomo (or Bionkoméko) : A reference to all that occurs in the ‘plante’, including the music and the rites.

Butáme : Abakuá temple. Literally, ‘the place where the Ékue sounds. In Ngolo (Londo) speaking regions of southwestern Cameroon, Butamo is the name of the Ékpè society.

Ékue : the ‘mystic Voice’ of the leopard. In the Efik language of Calabar : Ékpè ‘leopard’.

Fambá : Abakuá temple.

Íreme : Body-mask. There are various Íremes in Abakuá, each with a specific title and function.

Mbori : goat. During initiation and funerary rites for title holders, goats are sacrificed. In Éjághám, mboi ‘goat’.

Moruá : chanter; whoever knows how, and then chants, is in this moment ‘Moruá’. In the Ékpè vocabulary of Calabar: Mùrúà ‘chanter’.

Moruá Yúansa : A title that represents the music, which he directs and chants.

Mpegó : The scribe. A title responsible for drawing ritual signs.

Nkomo : An Abakuá drum. In the Efik language of Calabar : èkòmò ‘drum’.

Obonékues : Abakuá members (those without titles). See ‘Abanékue’.

Planting : performing an Abakuá ceremony. This Spanish term is used to translate an African concept.

Válla, la : A term describing the circle of musicians on the patio who play lively music to keep the energy of the participants up during hours of ceremonial action.‘Valla’ literally means ‘cock pit’, a reference to cock fighting, because the lead chanters compete with adversaries to prove their mastery of Abakuá lore to the others. Spanish term.



1. The Abakuá institution : a Carabalí foundation in Cuban society
2. Styles of Abakuá music : Nyánkue rites; Efó and Efí lineages; the lamellophone; percussion instruments
3. Abakuá ceremonial music
4. Abakuá influence in Cuban popular music
Musical examples


By Dr Ivor L. Miller

© Médiathèque Caraïbe / Conseil Départemental de la Guadeloupe, 2016