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Guadeloupe Gwoka is a combination of music, songs and dance, which has been listed as intangible cultural heritage since 2014.

All the ethnic and religious groups Guadeloupe practice Gwoka, which marks daily events and festivities, as well as cultural and pagan events.

Max Diakok, a Guadeloupean and Gwoka advocate, speaks about his heritage.

Gwoka is a way to honour our ancestors who were not always in the limelight, although they deserve to be thanked for saving Gwoka traditions from oblivion. Gwoka danses and music were despised until the 60s, and banned under slavery, listing Gwoka as a national heritage il a way to honour our forefathers posthumously and remember all those who didn’t hesitate to perform dances and songs at great risk. All these people are in my thoughts.

(adapted from “Extrait Outremer 1ere”)

“Zouk”, a federating but overlooked part of French culture.

Many metropolitans see zouk as coconut trees and Hawaiian shirts as the “Compagnie Créole” band and Francky Vincent are the only local artists the French know and dance to. In actual fact, zouk, invented 30 years ago by Jacob Desvarieux, “Kassav’” band-leader, is highly technical music, with a strong identity. Incidentally, Kassav’ is the French group which holds the record number of overseas concerts.

(Adapted from: Rue 89)

Zouk music usually comes up when people are asked about music from the Antilles, however, it is far from being the only style in the islands. Gwoka in Guadeloupe, for example (known as Bèle in Martinique) are rhythmical music styles, which originate from African beats and are played with traditional African instruments, tambourines, for instance. In contrast with the preferred theme of Zouk music, which is love, Gwoka is an emancipated, conscience-generating African heritage, promoting identity, African roots and solidarity while resisting oppression and fighting alienation. Most songs have an important message to convey, rather than a sweet and sickly love story. The icon of Gwoka is the band Akiyo, which wrote and interpret the cult song “ jilo jilo ay ay ay, léssé mwen alé jilo, kité mwen alé jilo, kité mwen pati jilo; an ka pati an ka voyagé, pétèt an jou an ké rètouné”
Source : la chronique Epicée 21 12 2015

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