The gota or kago (kettledrum) is an instrument made from the husk of the calabash tree (Crescentia alata of the family of bignomiacea), called katin in the Fon language. The seedpods are taken out and dried. The top of the gota is covered with a dried animal skin stretched over it.
The gota was invented by a ethnic group, called the Mahi, that once inhabited the Abomey plane. After being persecuted by the Guedevi, ancestors of the Fon from the kingdom of Dahomey, they settled in the hills of Savalou in north-central Benin. That is when this people abandoned the zinli (a canary-shaped idiophone made of clay) to take up the gota which is made from a gourd and is thus less fragile.
This instrument of Mahi origin spread into a number of regions so that today it is played throughout almost all of southern Benin. On the other hand, it is also played in northern Benin although it does not have the same name and is not used in the same way. The gota is generally played by men and does not have any special requirements provided that players learn and master the playing technique. An experienced gota player always has an apprentice who will succeed him later in playing the instrument. The gota plays the tchinkoume rhythm during funeral ceremonies, especially the yonoutcho and ahidjekpe, which are the first and second stages respectively of the liturgy of the dead in the Mahi tradition. Its deep hollow sound represents the other world for the Mahi.
Today, this instrument one of the instruments played by a number of musical groups and is one of the major contributions of Mahi culture to the musical heritage of our country.