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Culture in Gabon


International Centre for Bantu Civilisations was created in Libreville in 1983, and there is a Gabonese Museum featuring Gabon's history and artistic relics. There is also a French Cultural Centre in the capital which displays artistic creations and features dance groups and chorales. There is an annual cultural celebration as well, with performances by musicians and dancers from many different groups in celebration of Gabon's diversity.


A country with a primarily oral tradition up until the spread of literacy in the 21st century, Gabon is rich in folklore and mythology. "Raconteurs" are currently working to keep traditions alive such as the mvett among the Fangs and the ingwala among the Nzebis.

Visual Arts

The Fang make masks and basketry, carvings, and sculptures. Fang art is characterised by organised clarity and distinct lines and shapes. Bieri, boxes to hold the remains of ancestors, are carved with protective figures. Masks are worn in ceremonies and for hunting. The faces are painted white with black features. Myene art centres around Myene rituals for death. Female ancestors are represented by white painted masks worn by the male relatives. The Bekota use brass and copper to cover their carvings. They use baskets to hold ancestral remains. Tourism is rare in Gabon, and unlike in other African countries, art is not spurred on by the prospect of capitalism.

Performing Arts

Gabonese music is little-known in comparison with regional giants like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon. The country boasts an array of folk styles, as well as pop stars like Patience Dabany and Annie Flore Batchiellilys, a Gabonese singer and renowned live performer.

Dabany's albums, though recorded in Los Angeles, have a distinctively Gabonese element and are popular throughout Francophone Africa. Other major musicians include Pierre-Claver Akendengue (considered a master-poet), "the veteran" Mack Joss, Vickos Ekondo, known as "the king of Tandima".

Annie Flore has participated in musical events, both improvised and planned, with a wide variety of musicians from around the world, including: Youssou N'dour (Senegal), Ray Léma (DRC), Lokua Kanza (DRC), La Baronne (France), Carlo Rizzo (Italy), Cynthia Scott (USA), Mario Chenart (Canada), Solange Campagne (Canada), Philip Peris (Australia) and Qiu-Xia-He (China).

Also known are guitarists like Georges Oyendze, La Rose Mbadou and Sylvain Avara, and the singer Oliver N'Goma. Imported rock and hip hop from the US and UK are popular in Gabon, as are rumba, makossa and soukous. Gabonese folk instruments include the obala, the ngombi, balafon and traditional drums.

Any discussion of Gabonese music must include the sacred music of the Bwiti whether attributed to the Mitsogo or the Fang or other peoples. Recent studies have demonstrated the knowledge of the Bwiti on the relationship of the music of iboga (perennial rainforest shrub and psychedelic) to effect the journey of iboga.





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