Indigenous Supergroup

In 2015, Kakatsitsi will joined on tour by musicians and dancers from two other African cultures to create what we are terming ‘Kakatsitsi +’. These guest indigenous musicians and dancers come have a strong spiritual dimension to their work which will add to there ceremonial nature of the occasion.

The !Gubi Family from Namibia are a group of San ‘Bushmen’ musicians and dancers from the Kalahri in Namibia who first toured the UK in 2001 and with Indigenous People in 2008.


They are the guardians of an ancient tradition of healing trance dance and are the original, indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa, using a variety of acoustic instruments such as the !Goma (mouthbow), !gau gau (5 stringed hand-harp) and Kan Do Do (percussion bow). The dancers have body percussion made from Moth cocoons and perform a collection of dances inspired in part by the flora and fauna with whom they share their desert home. The San are an increasingly endangered people, forced to abandon their hunter-gathered lifestyle by the enclosure and seizure of their ancestral lands. Looked down upon by Namibians as primitive, their rich spiritual music and dance culture is becoming increasingly marginalized and endangered.

David Mbilou (Menvie-Me-Ndone, also known as David), but mainly known by his Bwiti name,  Mbilou, is a Bwiti Nganga (healer/dancer/musician/shaman), from Gabon.


He plays the Mongongo (the mouth bow with the monostring), the Ngoma-Ngombi  (the famous harp that speaks the voice of the ancestors), the Etsika (the Ciessi horse antelope horn used  to call spirits) as well as various drums and shakers / bells.

Bwiti is an ancient shamanic tradition, originally practised solely by the forest peoples of the central African rainforest, sometimes collectively known as Pygmees, but which is now practised in many different forms, branches and sub-branches by many different tribes of Gabon, Cameroon and Congo, both deep in the heart of the forest, and equally in the cities and villages. Central to this tradition is the use of a psychoactive plant called Iboga – a visionary plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years. This ceremonial music of the Bwiti has been in evolution with the use of this plant since its first use by humans. The music, as with most shamanic traditions, helps ceremony participants on their spiritual journeys. It is original, authentic trance music, played all night long during ceremonies and initiations. Polyrhythmic music is often a signature in Bwiti (it coming originally from the various Pygmee tribes who have mastered these rhythms) and these rhythms are one of the inducing factors that lead to trance states when used in conjunction with the Sacred Wood.

Mbilou 8

This rich tradition is now under threat due to several factors. Many Gabonese people are being persuaded to turn away from their “primitive” practices and to embrace both western capitalist values and the fundamentalist mainstream religions that are in ascendance there. At the same time, Iboga and the single extracted alkaloid, Ibogaine, are being recognised by more and more people as an extremely effective treatment for opiate and other addictions, and as a psycho-therapeutic tool of the highest order – all of which has led to an exponential and  massive rise in demand for this plant globally, which has in turn led to its severe decline in the wild (it is now on the Gabonese endangered species list) and it is becoming unavailable for ritual use to many Gabonese Bwitists.


Festivals / Venue Performances

There are a number of options which we would like to offer to UK and European festivals taking place in the Summer of 2015.

The first of these is a combination of workshops in traditional drumming, dancing and singing hosted by Kakatsitsi, the Gubis and Bwitis during the day, followed by a traditional set in which Kakatsitsi will be joined by the musician and dancers from the two other partner traditions.

The performance will build on a successful model developed at the ‘Indigenous People’ event held at the Synergy Centre in Camberwell in 2008, images of which can be seen here.

IP Event flyer

IP Event flyer (rear)

Kakatsitsi and The !Gubi Family perform together in 2008.

The proposed traditional set featuring all three traditions / cultures will include a combination of ‘solo’ sets by each traditional group as well as mini-fusion sets between them. Kakatsitsi will act as the ‘rhythm section’ for these fusion sets, with the San and Bwiti musicians / dancers playing their acoustic instruments and performing their dances. An initial idea of how the set would run would be as follows :

  • Ceremonial Introduction – Libation Ceremony by Kakatsitsi, Bwiti blessing by Mbilou and prayer song by the San.
  • Kakatsitsi traditional tracks, featuring the songs, rhythms and dances used by the traditional priesthood (Wolomei) of the Ga tribe.
  • Bwiti traditional tracks,  featuring traditional songs and melodies from the Bwiti tradition, if necessary supported by Kakatsitsi on drums.
  • San Traditional tracks,  featuring traditional songs, dances and rhythms, if necessary supported by Kakatsitsi on drums.
  • Kakatsits / Bwiti / San tracks featuring all three traditional cultures
  • Communale finale in which workshop participants join with the groups on stage to demonstrate the rhythms, songs and dances they have learned, rounded off with some participatory dancing also including the audience.



In the run up to a festival, all three groups will be available, either on their own or in collaboration with one or more of their partner groups, to visit local schools to offer workshops in drumming, dance and singing catering for both primary and secondary schools. These workshops will be based on the tried and tested Kakatsitsi model which has been developed of 18 years of UK touring and which has developed an excellent reputation. Due to the numbers of musicians and dancers involved in the project, it is envisaged that it will be possible to put out two such educational groups. This arrangement will take advantage of Kakatsitsi’s very strong reputation and track record in the educational sector, their experience as teachers and also their relatively strong English language skills, an area in which we expect both the Bwiti and San to be at a slight disadvantage. The children attending the workshops will be invited along to the end of week performance, joining all three groups on stage at the end of the show.

 Local children join with Kakatsitsi on stage in Shetland in 2013.

Festival Workshops will also be offered, either in an Indigenous People space or in the festivals workshop or kids space, in drumming, singing and dancing from the three traditions and the workshop participants will be invited to participate in the finale of the show in the same way as the school children above.

Superspirit Dance Workshop

Kakatsitsi dance workshop @ Superspirit Camp 2014