The concert which will take place in Bristol this Saturday will raise funds for community activities. Speaking to this newspaper, Dr Nick Maurice who served as head of the Commonwealth foundation Building International Links for Development (BUILD) said: “I am overwhelmed by being chosen as the one to crown Jaliba Kuyateh ‘King of Kora’. This came to me out of the blue and I almost fainted on the spot when I read the letter of invitation from my friends and colleagues in the Kombo Sillah Association. I have heard Jaliba when he has performed in Gunjur, fundraising for some of the initiatives in which we have been involved and I have always been hugely impressed by his technique, his musicianship and his extraordinary ability to connect with his audience. It would be wrong to suggest the music of the kora is instantly appreciated by my Western ear, just as I am sure it is difficult for Africans to adjust to the orchestral and choral music of Bach or Beethoven but one thing I am sure of is that music is a universal language and can do so much to bring people of different cultures and faiths together. Jaliba has proved so. Like all brilliant musicians, he started playing the kora at a very young age – five.
“He has made many recordings and he has played to large audiences around the world including America, Europe and of course Africa. He has been chosen to be Unicef Ambassador in recognition of his ability through his playing to bring peace and harmony. It is significant that one of his songs is entitled Kaira Silo Mang Janfa (the road to peace is never too long). It is entirely appropriate that he should be crowned king of kora. For me to be chosen to undertake the crowning is the greatest privilege that has ever been bestowed on me and I cannot understand why I, an Englishman, a retired doctor in a small market town in the UK should be the person to undertake this great ceremony. I approach the ceremony with nervousness, with humility, never having undertaken such a ceremony before but with a sense that I know I will be contributing to the global recognition of a truly great man, the King of Kora, Jaliba Kuyateh.”
Kombo Sillah Association was founded by Gambians and friends of The Gambia resident in the United Kingdom with a view to promoting education, and relieving poverty. In the UK, this involves cultural education targeted at the objective of advancing and cementing social cohesion and community integration.
By Sainey Darboe