Buruntuma: I am a griot in modern times


DJ Edu This Is Africa

Guinea-Bissau’s super-cool DJ Buruntuma can’t prevent a guilty chuckle escaping his lips as he confesses that it was a slightly tacky mid-90s chart hit that inspired his passion for electronic music.

“Reel 2 Reel, Erick Morillo, you know? I like to move it, move it?”

For anyone not au fait with I Like To Move It, an earworm that was a huge chart smash across Europe in 1994, you can check it out here.

It’s not the only example of a dance classic Buruntuma cites as he explains the listening habits of his youth.

“Robin S, Show Me Love. These kind of northern American house tracks, together with some traditional music from Guinea-Bissau.”

That love of Western dance music played a big part in Buruntuma turning Lisbon into a permanent base, after a number of years spent studying in the Portuguese capital.

“I used to say that if you grew up here in Portugal you not only become Portuguese, you become Angolan, Cape Verdean, Mozambican, from Sao Tome, Brazil, because we have a lot of mix here.

“Portugal is a tiny little piece of Africa in Europe.”

Now an in-demand DJ in his own right, the 30-year-old’s Afro-house sound fuses his Western influences with traditional vibes. He describes himself on social media as a “storyteller lost in Lisbon” and a “modern times griot”.

“[A griot] is an ancient family of musicians. There are people that transmit and sing the knowledge and traditions about their village, their people. They are like the guardians. I think I am a griot in modern times.”

Buruntuma’s love of music might have been sparked by a dancefloor hit from across the Atlantic but he’s keen for others to hear the rhythms of his native land.

“I know that we are just a tiny little piece of land but we have a lot of qualities and you see the result now. People listen to the music and they say this is good music.”

You can hear more from Buruntuma on This is Africa this Saturday, on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa.