Gwoka music, the soul of Guadeloupe


Post by Peter Jordens.

A few weeks before the first anniversary of the passing away of Guadeloupean gwoka musican Guy Konket (1950-2012, the film “Gwoka, l’âme de la Guadeloupe [Gwoka, the Soul of Guadeloupe?]” has been released on DVD. The documentary by Bourgine Carolina and Olivier Lichen, originally released in 1995, guides the viewer through the ‘swaré lèwoz’ [community evening parties where gwoka is played, sung and danced] and allows one to appreciate the creative passion and meaning of gwoka music. The film profiles several legendary gwoka ambassadors who have become part of the shared memory of Guadeloupe, such as Henry Delos, Man Soso (Guy Konket’s mother, described here as “the guardian of lèwoz in Jabrun”), Carnot, and Napoleon Magloire. Without necessarily getting to the bottom of things, the film tracks the journey of retrieval of the gwoka tradition that has survived slavery and France’s assimilation policy. Recently recognized with an award by France’s Charles Cros Academy, the DVD of the 55-minute documentary includes subtitles in English and 48 minutes of bonus features.

For the complete article (in French), go to 

The DVD is distributed by Zaradoc Productions,

DVD description: “The drums of gwoka have resonated in Guadeloupe since the arrival of the first slaves. Rooted in the rural history of the island, and long rejected, this tradition today symbolizes the people’s reconquering of their true identity. A growing audience is rediscovering the ‘swaré lèwoz’, captivated by the dares that the drummers, singers and dancers extend throughout the night. For the first time a film captures the social and historical dynamics of this music. From one ‘lèwoz’ to another, gwoka’s richness and power are restored.”

Also of interest:

· (11-minute excerpt of the documentary, featuring Guy Konket)

· (French)

· (English)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s