Gbofe of Afounkaha, the music of the transverse trumps of the Tagbana community, a cultural heritage in need of safeguarding

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1. Definition of Gbofe The Gbofe is a musical-choreographic expression whose practice is based on four distinct forms: trumpet players called gbofé hienlin, singers named Kielé, dancers named Yoor féhelé, and drummers, ping hienlin. Put together, these four formations build what is called the Gbofé hienlin.[1] The gbofe trump players orchestra is translated into the Tagbana language by the singers. Their songs are set in stride by the Yoor Féhele, who dance to the rhythms of the pindrè ( chalice-shaped drum, with a membrane). The latter is accompanied by the djomanhan (two-membrane cylindrical tambour) which supports the pindre at a two-stroke rate. The Gbofe is Known as a music and dance performed by the Tagbana community of Cote d’Ivoire. However, It's found in many different parts of Country, but under other names. If tagbana gbofé is made of wood in other parts of Cote d'Ivoire, it is made from "Ivoiry, animal horn, bronze, iron. 2- Origins of the Gbofe According to Afounkaha's Gbofé custodians, the Gbofé will come from Koutiala, Mali. It was his entry into Senufo country and then into the Tagbana community, during the conquest of the region by Mory and Samory Touré. According to Traoré Otamnan, chief of the village of Afounkaha[2], “Gbofé would be a form of musical expression specific to the large Senoufo group. The Tagbana also practice it because like other Senufo communities, they are heirs to it. Following the wars of Mory and Samory Touré (1885 -1890) during which the Tagbana people dispersed, the Gbofé gradually died out and its original characteristics were lost. The elders who survived this disaster tried to restore it, but it was a waste of time”. A long time later, genies would have, through a dream, asked Ouattara Pétahaman (son of the Tagbana’s people) to take over the Gbofé. He then became the creator father of the Gbofé. They would have asked him to go into the bush, collect the roots of the nangran-an (tree from which the roots used to make trunks are extracted) and use them to make the gbofe. Then, they asked him to take the trunks of the fitioo (tree from which the drums of Gbofé are made), to make the drums. And finally, the genies asked him to teach to the women, the songs they have taught him in the dream, and to the young people the Gbofé yoor (Gbofe dance).These recommendations were followed to the letter by Pétahaman and the Gbofé was reborn. 3- Function of the Gbofe The Gbofe has the function of education, for youth in particular since this traditional knowledge is most often passed down from father to son, but also other young talents can also join in the training sessions. The Gbofe is also played at rituals and traditional ceremonies, and the messages conveyed vary according to the circumstances: praise, love, satire, mourning, moral or educational messages. The Gbofe played an important role by conferring respect towards the holders of the tradition, and maintains culture unity, peace and social cohesion between communities and people. The various Gbofe performers follow an apprenticeship. It is also used for celebration such us marriages, baptisms and funerals, but usually for authorities or great personalities. For it is formerly a sacred dance, a music reserved for the elites. The players are most often notables or important people of the community. 4- Gbofe as intangible heritage of humanity The Gbofe’s nomination in 2008 as intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO was the result of long years of work and it was possible thank the studies and the promotion made by Yegnan Touré G Angeline[3], the Gbofe Expert in Cote d’Ivoire. In 1998, after her graduation at INSAAC (National Institut of Arts Cultural Action), she did a master’s degree in the field of music and musicology at the Félix Houphouët Boigny University. The master thesis subject was “the Gbofe of Afounkaha, the music of the transverse trumps of the Tagbana community” which allowed the Gbofe to be proclaimed as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001". In At the national level, this research on the Gbofe of Afounkaha has allowed this form of musical expression, once endangered, to be reborn and so to be practiced again not only the village of Afounkaha but in all the Hambol region of Cote d’Ivoire. It sparked the development of crafts around Gbofé: the sculpture of Gbofé trumpets, the manufacture of drums, the weaving of the loincloths worn by the singers and dancers of Gbofé. 5. The Gbofe of Afounkaha in need of saveguarding However, most of the people in Cote d’Ivoire do know this precious cultural masterpiece. Few years after its nomination in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, once more again the Gbofe is endangered due to a lack of local promotion and because of the rural exodus the practice of Gbofe has ceased. Which causes a decline in the number of those mastering the art and techniques of the dance, songs and music. Since its creation in 2004, the Association for the Safeguarding of the Music of the Transverse Trumps of Côte d'Ivoire (ASMT-CI) is a non-governmental organization composed of owners, practitioners and supporters, its mission has been to work under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture to safeguard and perpetuate the Gbofe but its actions seem still limited. In addition, a contract was signed between UNESCO and the Cote d’Ivoire National Commission for UNESCO, for a safeguarding project’s implementation in 2013[4]. After some negotiations the The Secretariat was obliged to cancel the contract and request reimbursement of the advance as no nomination file was submitted within the statutory time-limits but the subject is still on the table. More efforts has to be done so that younger generations can know that one part of their identity through the Gbofe. Sources [1]. http://www.angelineyegnan.org/le-gbofe/ retrieved 2022.4.1 [2]. ibid (by Angeline Yegnan) [3]. Angeline Yegnan's full Biography https://www.iremus.cnrs.fr/fr/doctorants/angeline-gninwoyo-yegnan-toure retreived 2022.3.30 [4]. https://ich.unesco.org/en/assistances/-00292 retrieved 2022.4.4

Information of intangible cultural heritage

Category : representative list

Number : ITH/08/3.COM/CONF.2

Year : 2008

Venue : Côte d'Ivoire