By Lamin Cham
The death on Saturday of one of The Gambia’s best known Kora players and singers, Tatadingding Jobarteh has shocked people at home and abroad. Tata, 56, was born in Brikama where, like his siblings, he carried on his father and family’s tradition as Griots, with a rich culture as custodians of the 24-stringed Manding musical instrument, the Kora. Tata perfected this art and mixed it with other modern musical instruments to form the Salam Band which toured towns and villages and performed for television and radio at home and abroad.
His emergence as a very young and talented Kora player and singer more than 30 years ago excited and inspired many Gambians. He first began by promoting his native Brikama Sanchaba where he proudly sang is the home of the young griot (himself). Tata then went on to hit the national stage with the band, dropping album after album as well as classical singles like Bitilo, Badinya, Kano,. A huge crowd attended his funeral yesterday in Brikama where he was laid to rest after a long and emotional outpour of tributes.
Hassoum Ceesay, the director of the National Center for Arts and Culture, said Tatadingding was a cultural ambassador and kora icon of the Gambia at both national and international levels.
”He participated in several international festivals promoting Kora. This include the WOMAD in the UK and the Zanzibar international festival among others. Even locally, also despite his sickness, in fact until very recently he was active organising the Kora awards which is designed to pay tribute to great Kora legends of the Gambia such as Bai Conteh, Alhagie Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, Jali Nyama Susso, Alagie Mbye and right down to the new generation like Jaliba Kuyteh, Tata himself and Pa Bobo. So he was a true professional who had loved music and promoting Gambian music. His demise is a great loss to the Gambian artistic and cultural community. The NCAC is deeply saddened by his death and prayed for his salvation in heaven,” NCAC Director Hassoum Ceesay said.