It makes sense that Antoinette Konan’s eponymous album features nothing more than her ahoko on the cover. The deceptively simple traditional percussion instrument transformed Ivory Coast’s Baoulé music scene when Konan deployed it against a roaring electrified backdrop of synth, bass guitar and drum machines. Released in 1986, the album is a veritable UFO of instrumental force and contemporary pop sensibility landing in a boiling pot of diverse, creative characters inhabiting Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire). Known as the “Queen of the Ahoko” among Ivorians, Konan single handedly put the central-Ivorian instrument on the map when she gave it a 20th-century re- introduction. The three-piece wooden idiophone is handmade from a thin, ribbed, flexible stick, against which a smaller chunk of wood is rhythmically scraped. A hollow nutshell held in the non-scraping hand amplifies and manipulates the resulting overtones. Despite the ahoko's diminutive appearance, Konan and her powerful voice have remained at the forefront of Ivorian music for decades now, in an extremely diverse country - approximately 70 indigenous languages - with a competitive, internationally-recognised music industry.
top of page