Music In Guinea: The Vanguard Of African Music

Sarah Mitchell

When Ahmed Sékou Touré was elected president of the newly independent Guinea in 1958, he spearheaded a cultural transformation in the country. During this time, Guinean music helped restore national pride and dignity, and the legacy of this pioneering revolution can still be seen in the cultural scene of Guinea today.

National Ballet of Guinea, 1962, Courtesy German Federal Archives / Wikimedia Commons

‘We prefer freedom in poverty, than riches in chains.’ Those were the words of Guinea’s first President, Ahmed Sékou Touré, in response to the former French President Charles de Gaulle, when he offered Guinea an opportunity to join the West African confederation lead by the colonial administration. Touré was elected when Guinea gained independence in 1958. A pioneer of the movement against the 60 years of French colonial rule in his country, Touré was also a major force behind the cultural transformations occurring all over Africa. When he became president, he established a new policy that was inspired by authenticity, where Guinean artists and composers were encouraged to combine their more traditional African melodies with a new modern style. Part of Touré’s policy was that each region had to have an official music group, which was funded by the government.

N’Faly Koyaté, Guinean Musician, Courtesy Blitz 163 / Wikimedia Commons

With Touré supporting such transformative creative enterprises, Guinean music underwent an exciting expansion. At the first Pan-African Cultural Festival (held in Algiers, July 1969) Guinean musicians were awarded a gold medal, five silver medals and the first prize for culture, confirming the success of Touré’s policy. This established Guinean and African musical identity, giving the artists the opportunity to present their messages around the world on behalf of the African people and promote their own voice away from colonialism. The African Cultural Revolution, displayed through music, can be found in the album series African Pearls, produced by Syllart Records. In particular, the Guinean compilation traces some of the most influential artists related to the independence movement.
Guinea now hosts some of the African world’s most remarkable artists. Mamady Keita, for example, is a well-known Guinean djembe drummer (djembefola), influenced heavily by the changes brought forth by Toure. At the age of 14, Keita was selected to be one of five percussionists for the National Ballet of Guinea and from then on his music career blossomed. Gaining a global profile, he opened his own school of percussion in 1991, called Tam Tam Mandingue; globally, there are now over a dozen of these schools. Mamady’s life story can now be viewed in the award-winning documentary Djembefola. Similarly, he has also been featured in other documentaries and books, displaying the progressive spirit of Guinean music around the world.
Guinea has many other famous Djembefolas. Some of the most recognized names include Famoudou Konaté, Arafan Touré, Fadouba Oularé, Gbanworo Keita, Lancei Kante, Laurent Camara, Noumody Keita, and Seny Touré.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.