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Kora Festival to be Held

Nov 11, 2008, 4:59 AM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah

For the first time in the history of The Gambia, the National Centre for Arts and Culture, in collaboration with MaalisMusicSchool, will be organising a groundbreaking "Kora" Festival in The Gambia.

Slated for Friday 14thto Sunday 15thNovember 2008, the festival comprises three different components namely a workshop for young students interested to learn about playing the "Kora", a conference on the revival of the "Kora" in The Gambia and a "Kora" concert by local and international griots.

According to Mr. Alajie Mbye, Manager of Maalis Music School, who is also a famous Gambian artist, the festival aims among other things to reintroduce the Kora instrument and its music. It also aims to celebrate the talents of all Gambian Kora players or griots and to discuss plans for the future development of the instrument.

He added that the festival also seeks to reclaim its birthright in The Gambia, as an instrument, which originated from the Mandinka ethnic group in The Gambia.

Mr. Mbye also lamented that over the years, the Kora has been relegated second place in the hierarchy of traditional instruments in The Gambia yet it was one of the very first Mandinka instruments in The Gambia and indeed in West Africa.

Also speaking earlier, Ms Anna Drammeh from Sweden noted that the festival will among others breathe new life into the instrument and the griots and plan a new way forward for introduction into the school system and general public. She also added that the festival will explain modern day griots.

For her part, Ms Isatou Njie, Performing Arts Officer at the National Council for Arts and Culture, expressed her offices fullest support to the festival. According to Ms. Njie, they want Gambian music to be accepted by our own brothers and sisters rather than accepting music from other parts of the world. "It is time for us to come to the home of Kora, bring back the old tunes of the Kora that people think no longer exist," she added.

Meanwhile the workshop of the festival will be held at Tallinding Sawo Kunda on Friday 14thNovember while the Kora concert will be held at the Buffer Zone in Tallinding on Sunday 15thNovember.