This project’s main objective was to collect traditional children’s songs of Guinea-Bissau, producing a CD that could be a symbolic archive of this repertoire captivating children and adults from all over the world.

For six weeks we travelled all nine regions of the country making 114 recording sessions and collecting about 500 songs from 15 ethnic groups in 17 different languages.

Because of this great ethnical and linguistic variety we aimed to include at least one musical example from each ethnic group. The CD is organized by regions, simulating the path taken during the field recordings. In each region we include songs of the ethnic groups that live there. Connecting them, we used several themes in Creole and one in Portuguese, languages of confluence, and aggregators of the various cultural realities of the country. We have tried not only to represent the cultural, social and demographic organization of Guinea-Bissau, but also to create the sensation of a musical and sonic journey through the territory.

We used the field recordings as the raw material and in Lisbon we added the contribution of Guinean musicians residing in Portugal, such as Braima Galissa, Bubacar Djabate and Gueladjo Sané, as well as other instruments and sound objects played by us.

The result is neither a pure record of what we collected, nor an authors’ work. Our ultimate goal is for the Guinean people to identify themselves with this object, which we hope will contribute to the dissemination and dignification of its musical culture in all its variety and richness.

Fernando Mota, José Grossinho and Violeta Mandillo


Guinea-Bissau is a small country situated on the West African coast with a population estimated at about 1,800,000 inhabitants and borders with Senegal and Guinea-Conakry.

The map of the country with its borders, drawn at the Berlin Conference (1884/85) by the colonial powers in the partition of the African territories, ignores the people and cultures present in the territory, which, with the end of slavery, would be considered cheap labour for the looting of natural resources.

Ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – seen as obstacles to the understanding and collaboration with the country’s government by international organizations – should instead be considered a great wealth, as long as respect and cooperation are established among the cultures present in the territory.

Amilcar Cabral in two fundamental texts for understanding the uniqueness of Guinea-Bissau’s liberation struggle from colonial rule highlights how the process leading to independence is closely linked to cultural affirmation:

“… It has been found that culture is the true basis of the liberation movement, and that the only societies that can mobilize, organize and fight against foreign rule are those that preserve their culture. This is whatever the ideological or idealistic characteristics of its expression, an essential element of the historical process.” (pp. 244).

The music, dance, stories and games learned in childhood are the key to the permanence of the languages and cultures that enrich the country. They sing and dance a lot with the boys and girls in Guinea-Bissau. There are games where words are repeated endlessly, chanted over melodic motifs, along with the sounds of the mother tongue, where the marks of each culture are present. It all comes together so that the sense of security that is associated with the faces and voices of the caregivers of childhood is the territory of deep affection and meaning that will accompany them throughout their lives. Almost everything will forever be understood by these unconscious filters, immaterial territory present in every decision and evaluation of what is foreign to them.

In each child who lives a childhood of happiness and grows in respect for the difference between the different ways of being in society lies the hope of creating a country fairer and open to modernity.

Domingos Morais, Inst. of Studies of Literature and Tradition of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa


This CD is the point of arrival of more than 3,100 km of sounds, encounters and plenty of diversity. A compilation of 31 Guinean children’s themes in their native languages registered for the first time with the participation of dozens of communities in the regions of Tombali, Quinara, Bafatá, Gabú, Oio, Cacheu, Screen, Autonomous Sector of Bissau and Bolama.

Integrated in the “Culture i nô balur” project – promoted by FEC and partners, and funded by the European Union, Misereor and Camões – Institute of Cooperation and Language, I.P. – this work invites us to a trip to an ever-present childhood, on the trail of a country full of cultures, with a special focus on Guinean children and their caregivers.

Peeking through a mosaic of 15 ethnic groups present in Guinea-Bissau, we are transported by themes that cross all those who speak and sing in Creole, Papel, Felupe, Mansoanca, Mandinga, Saracule, Balanta, Fula, Nalu, Beafada, Bijagó or Portuguese. The family and community ties … The relationship with the environment that surrounds us. The anguish of loss, rocked in the tranquillity of a lap. Unconditional love and stories we repeat, over and over again, on the wings of a rhyme.

With a transnational component, this collection extends over a wider Guinean territory, with the participation of Guinean musicians resident in Portugal, who join the voices of children and adults from Guinea-Bissau and the different sonic environments that they inhabit.

But if “Nha Mininu” is a point of arrival it’s also a starting point. A possibility of knowledge of the Guinean culture that is recognized, affirmed and reinvented.

FEC – The Faith and Cooperation Foundation