Song of the Month




Yesterday, one of the busiest roads in the country Sayerr Jobe Avenue was changed to Yankuba Colley Street with lots of controversies around it.

Coming from the capital city of Banjul, Sayerr Jobe Avenue begins at  Westfield Junction and continues towards the Serekunda market and up towards Bambo and the old Tipper Garage. At the Serekunda Market, it intersects with Mosque Road which is the citadel of business in the Greater Banjul area.

According to the UK based Gambian actor Mr. Ebrima Jawo, “Sayerr jobe and his sister Adam jobe originally came from kayor /Gajor and settled in that village later known as Serekunda. They both played important roles in our community and expanded the area. The reason why we have many women/girls called Adam is from Adam jobe sister of Sayerr.”

The name change is embraced and hailed by some and perceived by others as a discredit to Sayerr Jobe’s legacy. What is your take on the name change?


Musa Ngum on stage is an explosive, dynamic singer and sparkling showman, and off stage he looks so simple and ordinary, when he holds the microphone in his hand to sing the spirit comes alive and takes over. His voice is hypnotizing, the osculation of the voice fabric has a drug effect that is addictive which can electrify your blood pulse flow straight to your heart and overcome your mind which is far beyond human control.

Born in Fatoto, Kantora District in The Gambia, Musa Afia Ngum became interested in music at a very young age. Because his father was a trader who had to travel often, he was taken care of by a caretaker who was fond of playing a one-stringed guitar instrument. The caretaker used to play this instrument for Musa until he fell asleep. Musa, even in his early years refused to go to bed unless and until the "mola" was played which, looking back, he deems quite mystic.

Ambitiously pursuing his music career, Musa joined a group called Sangamarr Band in the late 1960s. He became the group's lead singer and played together at Sangamarr with the likes of Sam Jarju, Cheks, Pa Alieu Njie, Mbye Jasseh, Pa Ngum and Manka Susso, who was the group's guitarist. The group specialised in playing famous traditional songs with western instruments. After a while with Sangamarr, Musa was asked by his bigger brother, Lie Ngum, who was then a member of a group called Gelewarr to be their lead singer.

Musa played together in the Gelewarr Band with the late Oussou Lion Njie, the late Njok Malick Njie, the late Adama Sallah, Musa Njie, and Koto Ngum among others. During his Gelewarr days, Musa Ngum recorded songs such as "Tesito", "Bala Jigi Musa", "Xaleli Ndakaru” and many more which gained cult status and made him a legend in the Senegambia region. Gelewarr toured The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania and other West African countries.

Musa’s songs are mostly about the ancient Kingdoms of the Senegambia region in both landscape and cultural unity. He is indeed a musical hero. Musa left The Gambia in 1981 and moved to Senegal. He was assiduously courted by Super Diamono, one of the then premier Senegalese bands and he finally joined the group in 1985. He teamed up with Omar Pene, Maiga, Lamin Faye (Lemso) - the legendary Senegalese guitarist and they released "Borom Daaru" and "Partef" which became Senegambian classics. One of the biggest hits during Musa Ngum's stint with Super Diamono is the combination song he did with Omar Pene which is popularly known as "Omaro, Bamba sa mam la".

When Super Diamono disbanded three years later, Musa joined the short-lived group Ndaply and then went solo with his "Banjul Banjul" release and has since released a total of six cassette decks (Cds). He used only traditional Senegambian instruments. One feature a lot find it hard to believe is that the bass line is not an electric bass guitar but a traditional instrument known as the "Balafong". He was awarded one of the highest honours in Senegal, Chevalier of the National Order of The Lion, by the then Senegalese President Abdou Diouf.

Musa was invited by the Gambian president to come back home in 1997 and he has since lived in the country. In a nutshell, Musa Ngum is a superstar, songwriter and producer who, to a large extent, ushered in the era of artist controlled close harmony in popular music.

Musa is very devoted and passionate about his singing. He was the hero of Super Diamano of Senegal. He was the main attraction and the crowd puller for the band but he was a threat for the band’s way of gaining reorganisation in the Senegalese class system.

Senegal has not been known as a Revolutionary African ideological country due to their own version of Africanism based on Negritude and subjecting World Festival of Negro Arts with the degrading term “Negro” for presenting Black Africans. They were threatened with the songs and lyrics of Musa and the band sidelined him while he was their main crowd-puller and a neck-to-neck challenge and concurrent to Youssou Ndour in the Dakar music scene. 

They substituted him to Omar Pene and Maiga because of his African Revolutionary principles, political awareness and spiritual lyrics. The band decided to make him a substitute and reduced his role to one or two songs in every concert. Musa said that we have been made indifferent by colonialism and we have lost our cultural unity to the French and the English until we are sometimes engaged in mud throwing at each other. He once said that he will not wear the same colour of socks with his shoes until Senegambia is unified again as a symbol of defiance.

He has his relatives in Afdie (Halfdie) the southern side of Banjul. Afdie settlement was like Soweto in South Africa. In the past, one policeman alone does not patrol in Banjul South. If one does, the ndongos will seize you, disarm you and take away your gear for their own use against the police in strikes, bogus arrest and functions of discontent.

Musa Ngum is a ndongo, a professional musician and one of the world’s best singers musically. Musa is not a materialist and do not have a Manson or a fancy car to prove his point but he has soul and he is modest. The sick concept of possession do not bother him or attract his attention, it has no place in his spiritual world. 

He could have been singing Reggae and Soul working as a night club singer but he refrain from that and want to become an icon and a legend in promoting Gambia’s original music and striving for a national cultural identity through music. He is a visionary preserving and promoting Gambia's golden heritage.


Blessed with an exceptionally wide range that encompassed three distinct vocal styles, a piercing falsetto, a smooth mid-range tenor, and a deep Griot growl, Musa combined great technical prowess with rare musical individuality. Rebellious by nature, he turned the tables on Gelewarr Band hierarchy by becoming his own producer for “SAMA YAI DEM NA NDARR” the most significant work of his career. A suite of Madina Sabac influenced songs on the nature of Africa's political and social woes, this concept album still a novel format in this time painted a poignant landscape of Gambia’s Wollof urban neighbourhoods.

Musa also displayed dazzling virtuosity by overdubbing (building sound track by track onto a single cassette tape) his own voice three or four times to provide his own rich harmony, a technique he would employ for the rest of his career. “ARTIST DU DANU” was a critical and commercial sensation in spite of the fact that Musa feared his political discontent (and his stand against the Negligence of Gambian Musicians. Other major artists most importantly Omar Pene, Momodou Maiga and Ismail Lo followed Musa's lead and acted as producer of their own efforts.

Musa gave his spirit, his life, his thoughts, aspiration and the purpose of existence by being a force in our country. We as a people cannot let our inventors and great thinkers forge a life for themselves. When they are alive, we act as if they are not important but when they die we state to celebrating them.

Author: Oko Drammeh

Editorial: Musa Ngum, the legendary Gambian musician will be celebrating his 40 years in music next week Saturday January 31st 2015 at the Jaama Hall-Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia. This is a great acheievement for Gambia.This Friday January 23rd 2014, the legendary Musa Ngum will be our guest on the G T Radio show

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Daniel Domingues da Silva (Emory University), July 2007

Before the nineteenth century most people in the world lived under some type of dependency of which slavery was just one form. The story of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo provides insight into a world where slavery was just another social relationship. Ayuba was a Fulbe Muslim known as Job Ben Solomon to Europeans. In 1731, he traveled from Bondu to the Gambia River to sell two slaves at his father’s request. He tried to sell the slaves to a Captain Pike but they could not agree on a price, so Ayuba sold the slaves for cows to another African trader. Ironically, on the way home Ayuba was captured by raiders and sold to the same captain with whom he had recently haggled. Captain Pike carried Ayuba off to Maryland, one of the British colonies on the North American mainland, where he spent about a year as a slave before returning to Africa via England.

In the Americas, Ayuba shared the experiences of many enslaved Africans, and like many of his fellow Africans he attempted to run away. Ayuba was a slave at the tobacco plantations of Kent Island, Maryland. He had probably never worked under a labor regime that approached what was the norm on American plantations. During one of his attempts to escape, he met Thomas Bluett, an Englishmen, who, impressed by Ayuba’s Muslim education, helped him gain his liberty and return to Africa. Indeed, one of Ayuba’s letters still survives in the British Library and his religious convictions inspired images such as the one available in our gallery of images, published originally in 1750 in the Gentleman’s Magazine.

Bluett’s memoirs, published in 1734, provide one of the most complete accounts of Ayuba’s life. Another is available by Francis Moore, who in 1744 published his accounts of travel up the River Gambia, where he met Ayuba. Thanks to the accounts of Bluett and Moore, it is possible to trace in the archives the vessel in which Ayuba crossed the Atlantic. This was the ship “Arabella,” commanded by the said Captain Pike and owned by William and Henry Hunt, merchants of London. (For more details see VoyageID 75094).

Despite his life trajectory, Ayuba’s story has received much less attention than have other known survivors of the Middle Passage such as Olaudah Equiano or Venture Smith. Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was clearly a victim of the traffic as well as a trader in slaves, and indeed he resumed his slave trading activities when he returned to Africa, working for the English Royal African Company. An important lesson to be drawn from Ayuba’s life is that slavery was widely accepted in the mid-eighteenth century among both Europeans and Africans.

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