Mapouka, Ivory Coast’s gift to world’s music
BY PAUL YAO
Mapouka is a dance of Ivorian origin that is executed by women shaking their rear-end fast to the tune of a brisk, lively beat. The dance has been around for barely three decades in its present form. But it is the modern form of an ancient dance in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa.
Originally, Mapouka was a very gracious dance executed by a woman in the privacy of her room for the sole delight of her man. Standing, the woman shakes her hips and the rest of her body gently, in a way that unmistakably arouses her companion’s appetite. Historians tell us that the dance was also executed by old women during traditional ceremonies. But that’s history.
Today’s Mapouka is danced to the tune of a fast rhythm by young women who shake their behind in an extremely provocative way. The beat sometimes gets so hot, and the women so excited (and exciting to most men) that one has the impression that the dancers are remote-controlled.
The once gracious dance became so vulgar that the government of Côte d’Ivoire outlawed it a few years ago. Indeed, young dancers sometimes danced naked in public, with their backs turned to the audience, bending and with a hand on the floor. Hmmm!!
The ban angered the music industry, but, thanks to talks between the authorities and representatives of the industry, the dance was reinstated. Clearly, the excesses of the past are now gone, and Mapouka is “clean” again.
Mapouka is a discriminatory dance executed only by women, but not just any women! Only the “fleshy” type that has something to shake. Well, there is a variety of Mapouka known as Mapouka Cellulaire—danced by women who are slim like a cell phone, that is—but that one has never been very popular.
While Mapouka is produced only in Côte d’Ivoire, the rhythm has spread throughout Africa. Mapouka songs are played on radio, television and in nightclubs throughout West Africa and other regions of the continent, as well as in African circles in France, England, Belgium, the United States, and so forth.
In nightclubs in Africa, Mapouka is not a women-only-affair. Men and women do the dance, whether they have something to shake or not.