Sissoko, Djelimoussa "Ballake." 1997. Jeli Moussa Sissoko: Kora Music from Mali. Bibi B. Bucking Musikverlag/Nbg., 9764-2 Indigo.


Haidara Sirifo is also a Gambian composition. It is played to honour the family of the Haidara or Kureishi which traces its origins back to the prophet Mohammed. Returning from his legendary pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, emperor Mansa Mussa reputedly brought back members of the Kureishi to spread the Islamic faith. At first sight this song is characterized by its funky bass accompaniment which has become a trademark of young Kora players in The Gambia. In fact the song is based on the chord progression of Sundiata, the musical theme played for the descendants of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the empire of Mali.

Diabate, Toumani, and Sidiki Diabate. 2014. Toumani & Sidiki. World Circuit, WCD087.

(Haidara Sirifo)

From Cassamance in southern Senegal, this tune is played in a very percussive Senegalese style, that mimics the groove and power of the sabar drums. It was popularized by the great Malian griot Kandia Kouyate, in whose band Toumani played as a teenager. Its lyrics praise a marabout, or holy man called Haidara, lauding his status of 'Chérif' or 'Sirifo', a lineage that goes back to the Prophet Mohammed and his closest circle.