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 to effect the journey of iboga.
Literature & Oral Tradition
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.
Gabon also features internationally celebrated masks, such as the n'goltang (Fang) and the relicary figures of the Kota. Each group has its own set of masks used for various reasons. They are mostly used in traditional ceremonies such as marriage, birth and funerals. Traditionalists mainly work with rare local woods and other precious materials.