Christian Long

Rokia Traore: Sings “Kounandi”

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Reflection by GAGE L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Rokia Traore:  Sings “Kounandi”

Note: This is the same song, but it is not the actual TED performance.


The opening music that is played in this clip gives off a very strange vibe. It makes you feel as if the song has a hidden meaning behind it.

As Rokia begins to sing you can tell that the song is very meaningful and she feels very strongly towards it. Although I cannot understand any of the actual words, I can still tell by her facial expressions and hand gestures that the topic has something to do with her and a deep spiritual meaning. The song and the way it is sung gives off a mystic feeling and as if it transcends time.

I do not no exactly what category of music you can put this in, but it is extremely powerful.

After listening to the beginning of the song and enjoying it, I simply lost interest as the video progressed. I know some people enjoy the music and the high pitched and loud singing, but to me it does not soothe my mind. I am not saying that the music is not beautiful, but six minutes of it just seems a bit too much for me.

I believe if someone were to take this song and translate it into English I might enjoy the true meaning of the song more. Understanding the lyrics plays a key role in how someone interprets the song. Also understanding the song could change your entire outlook and feeling that you get from it. Although this plays a key factor, the song could be ruined if translated. Some songs are just meant to stay in their Native language because that’s where it derives all of its deep and spiritual meaning.

Therefore maybe I should learn the language that this song is sung in and maybe I would interpret it and entirely different way.

  1. Found the following in the comments on the official TED video page. Worth a consideration.

    Theodore A. Hoppe wrote on Jan 10 2010:

    “I believe this song comes from the African film by the same name. The website California Newsreel said this about the film: “Kounandi is an adult fairy tale about love and the sacrifices it sometimes asks of us, but it also dares to address social conflict and prejudices. Kounand’s biological mother, a stranger to the village, dies in childbirth. The infant is named Kounandi, or one who brings luck, by the village chief and is adopted by Miriam and Moussa, an unhappy childless couple.”

    Alos, Emily McManus wrote on Jun 6 2008:

    “I wonder if the song is related to the movie Kounandi (from Burkina Faso) — in the movie, “Kounandi” is a name that means “one who brings luck”… More here:

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