By Prof Saikou Suwareh JABAI
Living Legacies officially launches its traditional music achieve on Friday 30th May, 2014 at the Gambia Is Good Cinema along the Kairaba Avenue. Founded by UK-based composer and international kora player, Tunde Jegede, The Living Legacies Archive holds artifacts, rare photographs, audio and visual recordings collected by him over the last 40 years. This year, Tunde returns to The Gambia, with the world renowned photographer and filmmaker, Sunara Begum, to document a new generation of griots and artists.
Living Legacies screened live performances of artists including Sambou Suso, Pa Bobo Jobarteh, Sura Suso, Wali Cham, Binta Suso, Hammay Saho, Yusupha Suso, Sulay Sowe and Demba Danjo. There was, also, a live screening of Sunara Begum’s film, Truth & Art on the work of Tunde Jegede.
Speaking after the screening of his works, Tunde Jegede said the idea of the Living Legacies was initially to document some of the older players like Amadou Bansang Jobarteh and others. He said there is a need for the creation of a platform for traditional music and to celebrate the rich culture and heritance. This, he said, prompted them to document live acostic performances by filming them as field recordings which the whole world would benefit from. He said some of the recordings of the documentary was done in Senementereng, Brimaka and Bakau, adding that they do not just record the players but also a kora instrument maker, Lamin Suso. He said the nexy step is to take the recordings and photographs they did and make them accessible via online website where the performing artists and others can get access to their (artists) works.
For her part, Sunara Begum said the idea of the project was first conceived by Tunde, who felt he wanted to explore the state of the griot tradition over 30 years after his initial visit in the early 80s. As a photographer and filmmaker, she noted that she was interested in how best to visually document and represents a tradition that’s evolving with time.