Thiowa Dembele


Thiowa Dembele is one of the main custodians of the Bobo musical tradition. The Bobo are one of the smallest ethnic groups in Mali with a majority of members based in Burkina Faso. However, their impact on Ségouvien pentatonic music is profound and their mastery of percussions and the balafon is renowned throughout the Manden.

Thiowa was born in Mandjakui, the ancient capital of the Bobo Kingdom. Today it’s a small village not far from the city of Segou. He spent his life playing during marriage and baptism ceremonies and recorded his first album “Tendoro” in 1994. 

Tiowa was the first musician to modernize the rich repertoire of Bobo tradition music. His latest album “Bwa” or the name for language of the Bobo is a tribute to a community scattered between Segou in Mali and Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso.

Along with the late Dounanke Koita, his body of work serves as an essential link between older and newer generations such as Ben Zabo, Delphine Mounkoro, Virginie Dembele and HiNiZi, a young group produced under Hambe Production in Segou.