Bubu music

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Bubu music is traditional music played by the Temne people in Sierra Leone.[1] The music was originally used in witchcraft ceremonies, but later it turned into a popular religious processional style played during Ramadan.[2] In its folk form, the music is played by blowing on bamboo cane flutes and on metal pipes -often repurposed auto parts.

During the Sierra Leone Civil War, Ahmed Janka Nabay became the first musician to record Bubu music.[2] He modernized the sound by adding electric studio instrumentation.[3] With songs like "Sabanoh" (We Own Here), Nabay asserted what he established as the underlying message of Bubu—peace, good governance and the empowerment of women or "ponchus". According to an NPR interview aired on August 22, 2012, Nabay's music became popular across the war-torn nation in the 1990s, particularly among young rebels trying to overthrow the government, which forced Nabay to flee the country.[3]

In 2010, Nabay released the first-ever international Bubu record, BUBU KING on True Panther Records in New York City.[4] He subsequently formed the first-ever international Bubu band, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, from local musicians in Brooklyn.[5]

In 2018, Janka Nabay who was the first person to ever record ‘Bubu Music’ died.[6]


  1. ^ Boima (21 March 2009). "Bubu Time". Ghetto Bassquake. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Nabay, Janka. "Guest Post: Janka Nabay". Altered Zones. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Jarnow, Jesse (10 November 2010). "Janka Nabay, the Bubu King, Grows in Brooklyn". The Village Voice. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Gensler, Andy (21 August 2010). "No Cover: The Bubu King Janka Nabay". Soundcheck. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang". True Panther. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  6. ^ ""Bubu Music" Pioneer Janka Nabay Has Died". Spin. 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2018-04-03.