Mekuyo dance Equatorial Guinea

Mekuyo: A dance from Equatorial Guinea

The Ndowé are an ethnic group in Equatorial Guinea, differentiated by their language, called “combe” or “ngumbi”. It is spoken by a small part of the population.

The Ndowé probably arrived in Rio Muni in the 12th and 13th centuries after having lived in Ubangui, where they met the Fang. They occupied the coast, which earned them the name of beachgoers, those of the beach. Numerous ethnic groups are part of the Ndowé, the Kombe and the Bujeba in the north of Bata. The Bapuku, the Balenke, the Enviko and the Benga in the south of Rio Muni.


Mekuyo is a mainly male party in which 3 characters appear disguised with a suit made of straw, are the Mamarrachos (Spanish word -which in turn comes from Arabic, muharragg- with the meaning of buffoon) whose characters are three: man, woman and abuser, identified by white masks, the first two and black, in the case of the abuser. The Mamarrachos are covered with a vegetable suit, based on small bamboo stems, cut into cylinders that cover the arms, legs, and trunk of the characters.

During this traditional celebration of the Combe people of Equatorial Guinea, these characters occupy the presidency of a large quadrilateral, delimited by a vegetable cord braided with palm leaves. The center of the enclosure will only be for those who participate in the ceremony: mainly young men who will provoke with their jumps to the characters. The ceremony is executed to the vertiginous rhythm of drums and metallic percussion, whose melody serves as a background for the choir of the women who, outside the quadrilateral, do not stop singing, cheering, dancing and chanting during the three long hours that can last this unique party in Central Africa.

Mekuyo Dance Equatorial Guinea

At the end of the celebration, the Mamarrachos are escorted by two of the officiants to the door of the supposed “magical world” and unknown from which they would have arrived. But every time the pair of Mamarrachos have left the scene, “the abuser” appears on the scene, wearing a black mask with a wide smile and a whip with which he will try to hit the spectators, running after them.

The Ndowe, “People of Water”

It is the name given in the strict sense to all the populations that speak Kombe: Benga, Bapuku, Bujeba, Balenke, Baseke, Bomudi. In other words, the Bantu of the coast improperly called “shorebirds”. The Ndowe can be classified into two ethnic groups: the Bouma (Benga and Bapuko) and the Bongue (Kombe, Bomudi, Asangon, Buiko).

They are a coastal people who are in turn farmers, fishermen and hunters. Their food is based on cassava, banana, and corn.