Gambia Academy of Music and Culture is Sona Jobarteh’s pioneering vision, set
to be the first cultural centre in The Gambia. She dedicates a huge amount of
her time to this enterprise and revolves most of her musical career around the
development of this institution. Her Academy will offer unprecedented
opportunities to both local and international artistes.
At the heart of this institution lies the values of preserving and advancing tradition, cultural exchange, and what Sona is hugely passionate about: social development.
Sona founded the Junior Department of the Academy in 2015 and named it after her late grandfather and master griot, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh. Since then it has gained rapid success over the past three years, offering specialist musical education alongside a full academic curriculum.
Students of the school have performed and showcased at numerous national events and were recently visited by the President of Germany during his state visit to The Gambia in December 2017. There are 14 member of staff and 22 students attending the Junior Department, aged between 8 and 18, each carefully selected by Sona for their musical potential.
Nearly half the children are orphans and all came from families that are unable to pay school fees for their children. So Sona supports the entire school and its running costs herself. The Africa Festival in Germany has recently sponsored Sona to pay for the salaries of her school’s local staff for two years.
Based on the rapid success of Sona’s “pilot” Junior School Department, she is now well on the way to transitioning into founding The Gambia’s first Cultural Academy. This will be a centralized hub for the education of both children and adults, national and international in the areas of study relating to Music and Culture, whilst also providing social development opportunities for the local communities.
The site of the Academy in Kartong puts it in a perfect location close to the beach, whilst being closely connected to the rural community. The Academy will offer courses to both national and overseas students, benefiting from on-site accommodation. The project is now at development and funding stage, and they are reaching out to partner organisations, individuals and funders to come on board this pioneering enterprise.