Batuku: sambuna and finason

Written by Olav Aalberg: badiu "at"

Updated January 2009


...  Nha Nasia Gomi, photo by Olav Aalberg, 2002

Batuku dancers on the Capeverdean women´s day                     Nha Nacia Gomi, queen of batuku

Batuku, sambuna, and finacon
Batuku originated on the island of Santiago and is the expression of the people´s collective memory and identity,
developed after work in the fields at improvised gatherings and community festivities. Batuku is basically a female activitiy.

In batuku, women strike (often polyrhythmically) the txabeta, a bale of cloth (see my article on pano)  rolled up and squeezed between
the knees. Batuku is divided into sambuna and finason. In the sambuna, rythm prevails over lyrics, and there is dancing to it.

Batuku on the web

Traditional batuku:

Read about cimboa - the one-stringed fiddle accompanying batuku sessions

In finason the singers improvise words according to a predefined theme, which may be related to the audience and circumstances, but a certain structure is obeyed. Today, N´toni denti d´Oro a man in his late seventies, is one of the last persons alive who knows how to do it.
As the style requires 4, 6 or 8 lead singers, each improvising 10 phrases on a predefined theme, it is no more to be heard in its proper form.
There are other ideas on the structure of these rythms, for example Tomé Varela da Silva, in his rather unique documentation of three of the most acknowledged batukaderas, Nha Gida Mendi, Nha Bibinha Cabral, and Nha Nacia Gomi. 
Da Silva does not mention the necessity of several singers to perform a proper finason, but he does, however, describe a session, where two singers sing ”together”.
These books are difficult to come by, not to mention read, as they are all written in Santiago style kriolo.. But - hey, what better reason to finally learn Kriolu?

CDs presenting traditional batuku 
Grupo Boa esperança Mondon Sons d´ Àfrica



Nacia Gomi Nacia Gomi cu sê mocìnhos Sons d´`Africa



The queen herself

Nacia Gomi & Ntóni Denti d´Oro Fínkadu na Raíz AV produções



Recorded and mixed at Kapital studios, Praia, Cape Verde

Nhamita Pereira Pachêncha!!! Agù na labada kôbi ta sèca Atlantic Music

AM 2219-99-05-27


I am told Nhamita died a few years ago..

Nhamita Pereira Batuque et Finaçon Ocora C 560151


Recorded in Holland. Nhamita died shorlty after these recordings.

Ntóni Denti d´Oro Batuque et Finaçon Ocora Radio France

C 560132


The only male batukadero I have ever heard of. A great record by a most fascinating man!! Listen to the cimboa!

Pó di terra Triste sta na rua Gold Music productions



Batukaderas from Chão bom, outside Tarrafal. That is also where the Salazar regime´s concentration camp is situated

Various artists Cabo Verde Dez granzin di tera Tradisom



From the Expo 98 participation

Various artists Music from Cape Verde Caprice Records

Cap 21451


(Nacia Gomi)

Various artists Cape Verde an archipelago of music Ocora

C 560146/47


Xubenga Terrero Lusafica



Elegantly including electric guitar, saxophone, clavier. A good start for people not yet accustomed to batuku. My favourite!

CDs presenting batuku using modern instruments
Nha Minininha Rainha di batuku MR Music Pro  


Traditional song, but heavy instrumentation. I like it, though.

Orlando Pantera

Orlando Pantera

bootleg material



pirate recordings 2 CDs by the late talented creator of the new “batuku wave”

Various artists Ayan Praia Records



Princezito, Djingo, Vadu, Tcheka

João Cirilo

Pô di Terra




this is one of the first examples of the generation of post-independence musicians








Nha Raís

Praia Records

Praia CD002


 Vadú is nephew of the famous singer in the great Bulimundo and Finaçon bands


Want to read more?
The following books give an in depth knowledge of the batuku tradition. You need no more excuses to learn kriolo, French, and Portuguese!

Hurley-Glowa, Susan Margaret Batuko and Funana: Musical Traditions of Santiago, Republic of Cape Verde Unpublished thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Brown University 1997 Well written, and the most complete description in English of this tradition
Monteiro, Vladimir Les musiques du Cap-Cert Chandeigne
Osório, Oswaldo Cantigas de trabalho. Tradições orais de Cabo Verde   1980 incl. single w/author singing trad . songs.
Silva, Tome  Varela da Finasons di Ña Nasia Gomi ICL 1985  
Silva, Tome  Varela da Konparason di konbérsu (1 280 ditadu y senténsa tradisional) ICL 1997 oral tradition
Silva, Tome Varela da Ña Bibiña Kabral - bida y óbra
  An article probably based on this book is published here
ICL 1988 Bibiña died some years ago.
Silva, Tome Varela da Ña Gida Mendi - simenti di onti na ^con di mañan ICL 1983 Born ca. 1897, this woman sang in the probably oldest way ever recorded
Silva, Tome Varela da Tenpu di tenpu (1.168 dibiña tradisional Vol. I ICL 1992  
Vasconcellos, Ernesto J. De C. E Archipelago de Cabo Verde Estudo elementar de geographia phisica, economica e politica Centro Typographico Colonial, Lisboa 1916 Interesting early notes on music and dance. A few pages now available as pdf document on:

Return to tabanka music page