Basirou Suso
Kora Player from Gambia

Basiro Suso
Basirou Suso photographed by Alfred Tamakloe

Basirou Suso was born and raised in Gambia in a family of hereditary musicians. He embodies all the traditions of the griots or jalis of West Africa. After being trained as a professional musician at L'Institut National des Arts in Bamako, Mali he returned home to form his own group "Manding Kono" in Gambia and to teach at the music school "Association Kunta Kinte" in the village of Juffureh.

The Jalis or Jeli (pl. jalolu) have through ages held the position of keeping the history and genealogies of various clans and families , composed and performed songs honouring principal figures in Manding history. The profession is common in various West African societies. Formally the 'griots' were the counsellors of kings and spiritual leaders, they conserve the constitutions of kingdoms by memory work alone and it is among the griots the kings used to choose the tutors for young princes. In the very hierarchical society of Africa before colonisation, where everyone found his place, the griot appears as one of the most important of his society, because it is he who, for want of archives, records the customs, traditions and governmental principles of kings. Basirous family had been one of such griots for generations.
Basirou Susos main instrument is the kora a twenty one string instrument which is classified as a harp-lute. Its long hard wood neck passes through a large hemispherical gourd resonator, covered with a leather (gazelle, goatskin..) soundtable. Today its mostly played at social events like name-giving and wedding parties or when a travelling jali entertains individual patrons.

What was once a form of entertainment only for kings and princes is now widely known and appreciated by many people around the world.



Basirou now lives in Danmark and can be contacted at the African Music Booking:
Basiru Suso
Yrsavej 4, 2 tv,
DK 5200 Odense V,
tel. (+45) 31779577


check also:

Ny CD - Suso Kunda
Basirou's latest CD

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Last updated on April 3, 2010

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