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 Sona Jobarteh’s Music academy

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Momodou Posted - 17 Sep 2020 : 13:31:47
This world-renowned Gambian musician is building an academy so children can study their own culture -- without leaving Africa

Written by Rachel Wood, CNN

(CNN) - She has found international fame as a musician, but Sona Jobarteh has a bigger mission -- to use culture to empower Africans to reform their countries.

Jobarteh has been performing with the kora -- a 21-stringed African harp -- on the world stage since she was five years old, becoming the first professional female kora player in the West African country of The Gambia. You can hear her vocals on the soundtrack to the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

As well as being an acclaimed performer, Jobarteh is a scholar in the field of traditional West African Mande music, and it was during her studies at SOAS University in London that she came to a realization.

"[SOAS] has one of Europe's largest libraries containing African literature and resources -- an absolutely amazing place," she told CNN. "But why should Africans leave Africa to go and study their own culture? This is something that didn't sit well with me."

Wanting to give Gambians a sense of pride in their own culture, Jobarteh is now building an expansive campus for academic and cultural studies -- complete with concert hall, amphitheater and recording studio.

History of the academy

Jobarteh founded The Gambia Academy in 2015, teaching school-age children a mainstream curriculum alongside African history, culture and traditional music.

Her idea was to create a course of study that highlighted the country's culture in a way that could be replicated and implemented across the country.

The Academy started with 21 students -- "to symbolize the kora's 21-stings," said Jobarteh -- in a makeshift facility in Farato, a rural town in western Gambia.

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rassimian Posted - 18 Dec 2020 : 14:10:10
Saw Sona Jobarteh about 3 years ago with a band in the UK, Africa Oye in Liverpool. Really miss that gig. She was absolutely brilliant. Interesting to note her comment about African history. So its not taught in Gambian schools then.! ? Should be.
Momodou Posted - 17 Sep 2020 : 14:34:54
I think they are very few. Perhaps this academy will create more.
kiwi Posted - 17 Sep 2020 : 13:52:21
How common is it for femails to play cora nowadays?

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