"Pala Pala Woman" by Mani Bella

If you’ve never heard of Bikutsi music, tune in to this infectious contemporary spin on the Cameroonian music tradition.

Track of the Week “Pala Pala Woman” channels the the spirit of Angelique Kidjo, with Cameroonian songstress Mani Bella taking on the role of a powerful woman with a serious musical agenda and a touch of humour. The track goes through many layers of guitar pickings and mvet pluckings, bells, drums, bass guitars and balafons that meld well together in a rootsy, infectious and energised manner, topped off with the original African call-and-response characteristic.

If you’ve never heard of Bikutsi (or Bikut-si) music, now is as good a time as any to tune in and get up to speed. Finding its roots within Cameroon's Beti community (consisting of Ewondo, Bulu, and Eton clans), Bikutsi is all about passion, brute force and movement, quite literally explained in the name itself. “Bi” is a term used by the Beti to pluralise whatever word happens to come after it; so in this case “Kut” is the Beti word meaning to “hit continuously" and finally “Si” is Beti for “the ground.” Bikutsi songs, led by a group of women, would focus on issues of everyday life, as well as a few sexually charged scenarios they wished would occur. In the middle of the song, women would stamp their feet and flick their shoulders back and forth, which you’ll be able to see in this track’s viral video.

Mani Bella's spin on Bikutsi is modern yet respectful of its roots as a very old form of Cameroonian music – and impossible to stand still to! 

Born in 1987 in Yaoundé, Veronica Bella Mani aka Mani Bella, is the latest singer to do her country’s musical history justice.  From a young age, the world of performing appealed to her, having come from a very respectable family of musicians that included her bassist-playing father. Making sure she picked up all she could from listening in on her father and his friends and joining the cabaret after school, Bella Mani knew she was destined for greatness, and so decided to leave school to pursue a career in music.

Come April 2010 she committed herself to her first recording, Push Life, which included the single “Kongossa” that aimed to stave off gossip-mongers. She was thereafter voted Best Female Artist at Festi-Bikuti 2011 and Best Female Newcomer 2011. Years down the line, she is currently touring Canada and Europe, not forgetting the rest of Africa, where she has topped charts on Trace TV, Amplitude FM, FM 94, CRTV, Canal hit, and Africa No 1.