Mapouka (also macouka,"la danse du fessier", or "the dance of the behind") is a modernized version of a traditional dance from the Dabou area of southeast Côte d'Ivoire originating from the Aizi, Alladian and Avikam people. Mapouka entered the music scene in 1997 following the 1990s creation of zouglou music and the importation of foreign music genres such as reggae and hip hop, and grew in popularity among the youth.
The dance is mostly performed by women, shaking their rear end side to side, facing away from their audience, often while bent over. The dance is less tame and more sexually provocative than its claimed traditional origins, resulting in it creating public controversy. Some Ivorians have criticized Mapouka for allegedly "debasing the country's cultural heritage" and promoting depravity.
In 1998, following complaints from citizens and women's rights groups, the government of Côte d'Ivoire banned Mapouka from public and television for being "sexually perverted, lewd and obscene". However, the prohibition was ended in 1999 after President Henri Konan Bédié was overthrown by Robert Guéï in a military coup. Following the prohibition of Mapouka in Côte d'Ivoire, the dance enjoyed a global following elsewhere in Francophone West Africa, where it faced similar controversy and was outlawed or chased away by authorities in Togo, Burkina Faso,Niger, Benin, and Cameroon.
The dance is similar to what is referred to in belly dance as "shimmies". The fundamental difference is that in belly dance it is performed while upright and facing the audience, whereas Mapouka is performed more often while bent over and facing away from the audience. The hip movements are however the same.
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- Newell, Sasha (2012). The Modernity Bluff: Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Côte D'Ivoire. University of Chicago Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-226-57519-3.
- Orishi, Norimitsu (28 May 2000). "Dance Has Africans Shaking Behinds, and Heads", The New York Times.
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- "BBC News | Africa | Togo bans provocative dance".