Organisation commits to preserve Gambia’s traditional music heritage


The organisation documented and screened live performances of Gambian traditional artistes including Sambou Suso, Pa Bobo Jorbateh, Sura Suso, Wali Cham, Hammay Saho and others.

Speaking to the media, the founder and international kora player Tunde Jegede said he wanted to give back to the younger generation of kora players and ensure they have the opportunity to hear the music of accomplished kora players who preceded them.

“When we were coming here, we didn’t find a platform. There wasn’t really a platform for traditional music for young players to do traditional music. There was platform for band and contemporary music but not really much platform for them to do traditional music outside of traditional context. So, we are trying to find a way to support that; support what was there and give a bit of exposure to some of the players who are somewhat disappearing from sight. The rich heritage is there. It is still there but I think if something is not done at the present, we The Gambia, could lose some of that heritage that we had. This was why it is an opportune moment to celebrate it and bring awareness to it,” the UK-based music composer who first visited the country as a boy said. 


He added: “Some people think that the kora originated from Mali and different places but actually the kora has a very big connection with The Gambia. It was developed in the Senegambia between Guinea and the Senegambia regions. A lot of other places we talk about like Senegal, Mali, give a lot of support to their culture.”

Tunde, who also collects artifacts and rare photographs, said it was important for younger musicians in the country to have similar experience.

Muhammad Dahab, a kora player and singer said: “I am very happy seeing my culture being revived and sustained by ourselves and being promoted by someone who came from afar. I am happy not for myself but for my culture which needs to be sustained.”  

The Living Legacies exhibition explores the themes of memory, culture and tradition. It follows the celebrated kora maker, Lamin Suso and documents the cyclic process of making and creating the instrument. It also includes intimate black and white portraits of the new generation of artistes in the archive.

Founder Tunde Jegede began studying the kora instrument at the age of eight with Amadou Bansang Jorbateh. The Living Legacies Archive holds artifacts, rare photographs, audio and visual recordings collected by him over the last 40 years. This year he returned with world-renowned photographer and filmmaker Sunara Begum to document a new generation of griots and artistes.


By Alagie Manneh