Flutes and whistles are played by members of both castes -- but we cannot remember girls or women using them although if they do not this would be unusual in terms of regional practices.

1. Kwatarza  A four-hole flute that used to be made from bark slipped off the branches of mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) trees when it is soft in the early rains. They are blown from the side of the mouth across the open tube. Nowadays kwatarza are made of lengths of plastic tubing of different diameters and thus different registers. They are usually played in ensembles of up to six players and are associated with initiates and the 'Bër initiation ceremony, rarely if ever being played at other times of the year.

Compare the playing of some of the 1996 initiates with that of an ensemble of recognized players we invited to play one evening in the same year. They include Tlisuku Barka, Hundu Tlagama, Zachariah Po, Kwata Midala and John Depe, with Hausa Zirangkwade on some tracks.

This short clip is of the initiates. (There is some wind noise).

Some of the quintet's/sextet's tracks are accompanied by a cicada chorus that had earlier forced us to abandon recording.

Here are samples of their music, beginning with a track made early in the evening when the cicadas were still singing. The combination behind the lead player produces an effect similar to yodeling.

This track was made later.

And this one ends in 'baboon style'.

   The kwatarza concert party on the evening of the 28th of August, 1996.


Initiates of the 1996 year play the kwatarza.

Tlisuku Barka plays the kwatarza.

In 2002 the Ocora label produced a CD Cameroun: flutes des Monts Mandara (B000003IG1) that is available through Amazon.com and other sources.

2. Mbuli  a vertical cow horn flute with two, perhaps sometimes four, finger holes and an embouchure built up of a resinous substance.

3. Cerak  A flute made of antelope horn with one hole in the rear. It was used to rally warriors.

4. Tëghatëgha  A wooden flute not seen by us; it is said to have been used in warfare.

5. Manggaray   A one-note wooden whistle that is held vertically. Different lengths and diameters produce different tones. It can be made by anyone and is blown by ensembles of several (probably ideally six) players.

During the dances associated with the 'Bër initiation ceremonies, manggaray ensembles, dang drummers (see below) and singers perform on the Patla, without overall direction but with each group or individual contributing to the overall effect.

A quintet of manggaray players, one wearing ankle rattles (see below), from Damay.

6. Tom-may and Tom-dlë  A buffalo or cow horn blown as shown on the right and used for driving baboons from the fields and for announcing deaths.

7. Litku  A cross-blown clarinet made by children from a segment of a fresh millet stalk. This is found from Senegal to Chad and is widely associated with the cereal harvest.


 Philip Sukur blows the litku  he has just made.

A mbuli flute

Two manggaray players at a dance

A Kigi elder blows a tom dlë.