Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Gambia Griot; Jaliba Kuyateh

Jaliba Kuyateh is one of the biggest names in the Gambian music scene. He was born into a Griot (Jali) family, a lineage of traditional musicians, historians, and protectors of the rich culture of the Mandinka of Gambia.

The Mandinka are spread all over Senegal, Gambia, Mali, and Gunea territories, where they live side by side with a mixture of Wolof, Fula, and other ethnic groups.
These vast territories were part of the great empires of the past the Mali Empire,1230-1600, and the Songhai Empire, early 15th to late 16th century.

Jaliba Kuyateh can trace his roots back to Mali. He is the son of Kebba Suti Kuyateh, also a Kora player, and Bakoto Mbye a singer.

Jabila has transformed the traditional 'Mande' music to what is today often referred to as 'Kora' pop music.

His lessons in Kora instrument  started very early, at a tender age of five.
He had to abandon Kora to attend primary school, and secondary school, but was to pick it up again when he got into the Gambia Collage to train as a teacher.

According to him, he went to college with his Kora. It was this move that brought him fame, and recognition. It also determined his present fate as a musician, rather than a teacher, and have made him the most popular musician in Gambia today.

          Jaliba Kuyateh Live in Helsinki
Ike Chime having a chat with Jaliba Kuyateh
During a recent concert in Helsinki, organized by the Association of Gambians in Finland , I had the pleasure of meeting and having a chat with this talented artist, during which he spoke among other things, about his love for Kora, and his passion for working towards the improvement of his people's life, especially women, and children.

See video below

Cross section of the audience at the Jaliba Kuyate concert in Helsinki

                         My chat with Jaliba Kuyateh - Watch the video 

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