By: Fatoumata Ceesay
According to the Gambian-British born Kora player, the school is aimed at educating the younger generation about their cultural and traditional instrument for the sustainability of African heritage. Jobarteh revealed that about 45 students from different homes and backgrounds have been enrolled.
Sona Jobarteh, who is also the first Gambian female Kora player told this reporter that she started experiencing the profession at a very tender age and now became a legendary Kora player. She explained how he got motivated to open the school through her observation that, most Africans heritage is more known to the Europeans than African citizens.
According to her, it is important for Africans to continue to learn and preserve their own traditions and culture, noting that Europeans are amazed by the tradition they find in Africa, but those in Africa are often more interested in what Europe has to offer than the richness and strengths of the tradition they already have.
“That belief has to change and the only way to do that is to train the younger generation on old instruments that were used by great African musicians like my grandfather,” she said.
The female kora player furhter stated that The Gambia is full of talented youths, both in the music and other sectors in life. Thus, he said, what is needed is the courage and the zeal to excel in the music industry, especially traditional music.
Jobarteh further explained that the whole idea of the project came from his father who has been working on setting up a musical school in The Gambia.
Among her expectations, she said, are to develop cordial relationship with cultural groups, musicians among others, both nationally and internationally. She affirmed that the project will create an avenue for the children to learn from other countries, and also for the international students to come on board as well.
On his part, Sanjally Jobateh, Sona’s father, said it is their concern after seeing that the culture and traditional music in Africa, most especially The Gambia is fading away. As a result, he said, they thought it is important to establish a cultural school in The Gambia, where children will be taught at an early stage and as time goes on international students will come on board. He noted that the project would complement government’s effort in cultural diversity as old musical instrument like ‘Balafon’; ‘Jembeh,’ among others, are brought out for the students to use.
Sanjally Jobateh described the initiative as a challenge to the students, as he stated, most of them have no musical background.
Jali Modou Sillah, the ‘Balafon’ teacher, said ‘Balafon’ is among the most important musical instrument in Africa, as there is this belief that it drives evil spirits away. He commended the students for being very brilliant and determined, while advising them to be vigilant, respectful and obedient, if they want to learn music.