MBG Director, Nick Maurice has had the extraordinary privilege bestowed on him of crowning Jaliba Kuyateh "King of Kora" in a ceremony to take place in Bristol at 1.00 am on Sunday 8 June! Jaliba started playing the 21 stringed traditional West African instruments at the age of five and is recognised worldwide as the leading kora player. Nick writes:
"This came to me 'out of the blue' and I almost fainted on the spot when I read the letter of invitation from my friends and colleagues in the Kombo Sillah Association. I have heard Jaliba when he has performed in Gunjur, fundraising for some of the initiatives in which we have been involved and I have always been hugely impressed by his technique, his musicianship and his extraordinary ability to connect with his audience.
It would be wrong to suggest the music of the kora is instantly appreciated by my Western ear, just as I am sure it is difficult for Africans (not to say some Europeans!) to adjust to the orchestral and choral music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, but of one thing I am sure; music is a universal language and can do so much to bring people of different cultures and faiths together. And so has Jaliba proved. Like all brilliant musicians he started playing the kora at a very young age - five. He has made many recordings and he has played to large audiences around the world including America, Europe and of course Africa. He has been chosen to be UNICEF Ambassador in recognition of his ability through his playing to bring peace and harmony. It is significant that one of his songs is entitled "Kaira Silo Mang jara fa" (the road to peace is never too long). It is entirely appropriate that he should be crowned King of Kora."
According to Kairo News “Being crowned the King of Kora is a realisation of the Gambian music maestro’s dream. At exactly 2:30 AM London time, the joyous Jaliba Kuyateh was crowned the King of Manding’s 21-string mystical instrument in the city of Bristol, United Kingdom.
It was more than a joy to see Jaliba sat on the throne. The newly crowned King did not stop there. He looked around the room brimming with smiles, reacting to how his efforts to showcase Manding culture and the Gambia to the world has been appreciated to the extent of being showered Kingship title.
Kombo Sillah Association’s crowning of Jaliba was its greatest way of thanking the man who has demonstrated his love for his people, culture and the country, using the Kora to mend broken relationships, entertain people, promote culture and raise funds for worthy causes.
A retired British Medical Doctor, who is a Gambian in spirit, was given the honour to officially crown Manding’s greatest living pride. Nick Morris caught the attention of everyone in the jam-packed hall when he decorated Jaliba with a scarf, a ring and the Mighty Crown. Jaliba’s ever loyal fans soon fill the hall with huge uproar, clapping and yapping. The swetest moment left the New King’s two wives in tears.
Before the official crowning took place, Mr. Kuyateh entertained his fan with three of his songs, among them Biyaso which touched the hearts of Guinea-Bissau citizens who handed a flag decorated with Dollars to the Kora King. Guinean citizens’ action symbolises that they know Jaliba’s worth.
At the time of piecing together this story, Jaliba was entertaining fans as a Crowned Kora King in Bristol.
More details of the Coronation ceremony will be broadcast in our subsequent radio programs. Due to technical glitches, Kairo Radio was unable to relay the live Coronation.