An All Around This World classroom and homeschool lesson from West Africa -- "Kikalama" -- an empowering African song“Kikalama” by the Kante Facelli Ensemble, as found on the Smithsonian Folkways Africa: The Voices and Drums of Africa, is a highly danceable and empowering African song with a mix of Malinke and Susu lyrics.

Country: Guinea
Language: Malinke, Susu

To record “Kikalama” for All Around This World: Africa Vol. 2 (West, Central and South) three legitimate superstar musicians from the West African nation of Guinea–balafon master and producer Famoro Diabate, multi-instrumentalist Abdoululaye Diabate and mighty vocalist Missia Saran Diabate, with legitimate local superstars, producer Amon Drum (Diabate?) and bassist/drummer Sean Dixon (Diabate!). Famoro, Aboululaye and Missia–Susu speakers all–helped clarify the song’s meaning. The lyrics of All Around This World’s version of this empowering African song:

Akhan a’mariye, n’na fan mikhi, a’mariye, a’mariye, khan n’mariye,

which means:

Marry me, my love, marry me, marry me, marry me,


Kikalama kikalama kikalama, kikalama kikalama kikalama kikalama,

which means, either

nothing in particular (“just . . . kikalama!” said Famoro), or, perhaps,

an expression of happiness based upon the Malinke and Susu expression of something being “hot” (kalama), such as “hot tea” (ti kalama) or perhaps a “hot” child, such as a young boy who has so much energy that he can’t sit still. Whatever the word’s actual meaning, the use of the phrase in the song implies strength, confidence and an inner commitment to doing what’s right.

Meet these fabulous musicians by seeing them in action in these videos:

How to sing with Jay each week in your home or classroom Support All Around This World on Patreon Enjoy interactive All Around This World lessons in your home or classroom


Engineering: Amon, Studio Brooklyn, New York


  • Abdoulaye Diabaté (Guinea, Guitar)
  • Famoro Dioubate (Guinea, Balafon)
  • Missia Saran Diabae (Guinea, Vocals)
  • Sean Dixon (U.S., Bass/Drums)

Traditional. Arrangement by Jay Sand.

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