Radio Africa

Guinean orchestras of the 1st Republic

First published in the book Mande popular music and cultural policies in West Africa

Available through Amazon

Graeme Counsel © Copyright 

National Orchestras

Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine
At independence in 1958 the Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine became Guinea's first state orchestra. From November 1 1959 they were instructed to drop their European march tunes for music befitting the new nation. In later years they were split into two groups - Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 1ère formation, who became the Super Boiro Band (see below), and Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 2ème formation.

Syli Orchestre National
Formed on January 15 1959, the Syli Orchestre National contained Guinea's elite musicians. The orchestra represented Guinea at international festivals, including Helsinki (1962), Algiers (1969), and Tunis (1973), as well as performing in Berlin, Lagos and Cuba. The first chef d'orchestre was Kanfory Sanoussi (accordion, banjo and vibraphone), with other musicians at the time including Kerfala “Papa” Diabaté (guitar), Balla Onivogui (trumpet), Kélétigui Traoré (tenor saxophone), Clément Dorégo (tenor saxophone), Honoré Coppet (alto saxophone), Pivi Moriba (trombone), Kerfala Camara (bass), and Jean Fanga (drums).  In later years the orchestre included Demba Camara (vocals), Momo Wandel (alto saxophone), and Sékou "Bembeya" Diabaté (lead guitar). In 1962 they were disbanded though the orchestra were reformed for special occasions for many years to come. At the Premier Festival Culturel Panafricain held in Algiers in 1969 the Syli Orchestre Nationale performed "Regard sur le passé", by Bembeya Jazz, "Sara", by Balla et ses Balladins, and other material from Guinean orchestras. They were rewarded with a silver medal in the "Orchestre moderne" section. Videos of their performances are here.

Balla et ses Balladins (also known as “Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée”)
Formed from the split of the Syli Orchestre National. Balla Onivogui (trumpet), was the chef d'orchestre, though Pivi Moriba (trombone) was designated leader in the early 1970s, hence the group Pivi et les Balladins. Balla was reinstated upon the order of Pres. S
ékou Touré. The orchestra continues to perform, and feature a young line-up.

Keletigui et ses Tambourinis (also known as "Orchestre de la Pailotte". Formed from “L’Orchestre de la Bonne Auberge” and “La Formation Kerfala Camara Tambourini”).
Formed from the split of the Syli Orchestre National. K
élétigui Traoré is the chef d'orchestre. The orchestra continues to perform. Videos of their performances are here.

Les Amazones de Guinée (originally "L'Orchestre Féminin de Camp Almamy Samory", "L'Orchestre Féminin de la Brigade Nationale", and “La Orchestre de la Brigade Féminine de la Gendarmerie”)
Formed in 1961 this all-female group of policewomen were emblematic of Guinea's social policy of gender equality. In 1964 the band ceased to play banjos and other acoustic instruments, swapping them for electric guitars, brass instruments and a Western-style drum kit. The orchestra continues to perform. Videos of their performances are here.

Bembeya Jazz National (also known as “Orchestre de Beyla”)
Formed in 1961, they won the "orchestre moderne" category at the annual arts festivals, the "Quinzaine artistiques de la jeunesse", in 1964 and 1965. In October 1966 they were nationalised, the first Federal Orchestra to be awarded this honour. Hamidou Diaoun
é (aka "Hamidou Diawiné") was the chef d'orchestre but has now retired. The orchestra continues to perform, and are led by Sékou Diabaté).  Videos of their performances are here.

Horoya Band National (originally "Milo Jazz", “Horoya Jazz” and “Horoya Band de Kankan”)
Formed in 1964 the Horoya Band de Kankan won the best orchestra prize in 1967, 1968 and 1971 at the Quinzaine artistiques
. They were nationalised on 7 December 1971. Métoura "Papa paya-paya" Traoré was the chef d'orchestre. Unlike many other orchestras of the first republic, the Horoya Band continued to perform regularly after 1984 and released numerous cassettes, the most recent "Kooba", in 2007. Lamine Camara, the group's drummer, has assumed the role of chef d'orchestre. A live video is here, and studio video recordings are here.

Super Boiro Band (originally “Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 1ère formation”)
Formed in 1959, the orchestra were nationalised in 1972. Mamadou Niaissa, the group's trumpet player, was the chef d'orchestre. In the post S
ékou Touré era the group were known as Super Flambeau. Videos of their performances are here.

Prior to the nationalisation of all musical groups in Guinea there were a number of private orchestras:
L’Orchestre de la Bonne Auberge (see Keletigui et ses Tambourinis)
- La Formation Kerfala Camara Tambourini (Keletigui et ses Tambourinis)
- L'Orchestre Honoré Coppet. (An alto-saxophonist, Honoré Coppet was born in Martinique and travelled to Guinea in circa 1959. He was a member of the Syli Orchestre Nationale. He left Guinea in circa 1964 and lived in Senegal until 1968).

Federal Orchestras
(Note that there was one orchestra per préfecture. Where multiple orchestras are listed this reflects name changes over time)

Beyla - Simandou Jazz
Boké - Sorsornet Rythme / Kakandé Jazz
Boffa - Dynamic Fatala Ambience
Conakry I - Kaloum Star / Kaloum Jazz
Conakry II - Kakilambé Jazz (ca 1964) / Camayenne Fooly (circa 1972) / Camayenne Sextet / Camayenne Sofa
Conakry III - Syli Authentic
Coyah - Soumba Jazz / Tabounzou Jazz
Dabola - Tinkisso Jazz
Dalaba - Dala Jazz (1964) / Téné Jazz
Dinguiraye - Kébaly Jazz
Dubréka - Soumba Jazz
Faranah - Tropical Djoli Band / Djoliba Band / Messagers du Niger|
Forécariah - Sataboum Rythm / Sataboum Jazz / Bafila Band
Fria - Kimbo Jazz / Sombory Jazz / Etoile de Kimbo
Gaoual - Orchestre Super Tominé Authentic / Tomini Jazz
Gueckédou - Kébendo Jazz (1962) (won the 1st prize at four Quinzaine artistiques, two more than Bembeya Jazz and one more than the Horoya Band, but were never nationalised...)
Kankan - Le 22 Novembre Band / 22 Band
Kérouané - Sankaran Jazz (1964) / Super Sanankoro / Sanankoro Sofa / Sanankoro Jazz
Kindia - Dirou Band (1959)
Kissidougou - Niandan Jazz
Koubia - Dimma Fooly
Koundara - Badiar Jazz
Kouroussa - Les Messagers du Niger / Djoli Band
Labé - Sassé Jazz / Kolima Jazz
Lélouma - Super Sankoly Rythm
Lola - Nimba Succès
Macenta - Palm Jazz (1964)
Mali - Loura Jazz
Mamou - Bafing Jazz
Mandiana - Wassolon Könö
N’zérékoré - Nimba Jazz / Super Nimba Jazz
Pita - Kinkon Jazz / Fetoré Jazz
Siguiri - Djoliba Jazz / Manden Könö
Télimélé - Télé Jazz
Tougué - Koloun Jazz
Yomou - Forest Band / Tout Puissant Forest Band / Oulé Jazz

University orchestras

Le Fils du Raïs (1981) / Soleil Université - Institut Polytechnique Gamal Abdel Nasser, University of Conakry 
Normalien Jazz / Ny
éréré Jazz / Nyéréré Orchestre - l'Ecole Normale Superieure Julius Nyéréré / Institut Polytechnique Julius Nyéréré, University of Kankan
Sankaran Echo - I
nstitut Valery Giscard d’Estaing de Faranah
Tolo Université Rythme de Mamou
Messagers de la R
evolution Verte de Foulaya

Orchestre Ecole Normale d'Instituteurs de Macenta

Other 1st republic orchestras

Conakry (Police) - Les Aigles de la Capitale
Conakry (Army) - Super Lion / Super Lion de la Gendarmerie
Conakry I
(2ème arrondissement) - Limanya Orchestre
Conakry (5ème arrondissement) - Foniké Orchestre (1977)

- Béro Jazz (sous-préfecture of N'Zérékoré
Kankan I - Sily Star
Kankan II - Milo Orchestre
Kankan - Mini Orchestre
Kankan - Révolution Band ("Orchestre du Camp Soundiata de Kankan")
Kindia - Kania Jazz
Macenta - L'Orchestre Ecole Normale d'Instituteurs
Mamou - Orchestre Feminin
Les Messagers de la Milice National
Les Heritiers de Demba
/ Demba Orchestra

Some early 2nd republic orchestras  

Atlantic Mélodie (members from Forecariah and Dirou Band orchestras, then based themselves in Conakry).
Les Etoiles de Boulbinet
- (a sous-préfecture orchestra) Boulbinet, Conakry I
Sirènes de Guinée
Super Flambeau (originally Super Boiro Band)
Les Authentiques de la Capitale

This page was created on 19 May 2006 and was laste updated on 19 August 2019.