Konte, Alhaji Bai, Dembo Konte, and Ma Lamini Jobarteh. 1979. Kora Duets by Alhaji Bai Konte and Dembo Konte and by Dembo Konte and Ma Lamini Jobate. Folkways. FW 8514.


Dembo Konte and Ma Lamini Jobate play and sing this popular High Life tune by the deceased Jali Mama Suso. Composed during the Second World War, the tune was adapted from the traditional song Sira Ba Bolo. The lyrics are notably different from those of a typical praise song.

Duniya, a mu nane ti The world, He is rocking it
Jongo ma ala bongo long The slave (of God) knows not his destiny
Fankata man jawiya Saving your money is not evil
Longole mu boro ti Knowledge is medicine
Tulo a te ba ko la The ear is not beyond the sea
Bar' a ka ba ko kumo mue le Yet it hears what is said there
Kibaro buka kalungo fu The news does not borrow a boat
Bar' a ka ba ti But it crosses the ocean
Dali subo la a ni' me ya Being accustomed to beef and having it to eat
Nte kiling ti Are not the same thing
Ba jike nte bambo ti The sea is not deeper than Crocodile
Bar' a kanda la mu but he is the ruler
N namata, m bi na boi la domanding I slipped, I have fallen down a little bit
M bi na to la ba kono I have gone inside the ocean
Kulungo ning jibo Canoe and paddle
Jiba kilingo ka ta jarlango ti It takes one paddle to row
Tamba Dibi The idol of Tamba Dibi
Numolu ka kele The smiths worship him
Tankango Sajo Jambang Tankango Sajo Jambang (a smith)
Tankang bulu tetele Tankang claps his hands
Wole bota kasa He came from Kasa
Tankango Sajo Jambang Tankango Sajo Jambang

Konte, Bai. 1982. Konte Family Mandinka Music: Kora Music and Songs from The Gambia. Virgin, VX 1006.


Jimbasengo is a recent composition and a great favourite among the young kora players, the Kontes being no exception. It is really an arrangement of an older tune called Sira Ba Bolo. A Senegalese kora player, Jali Mama Suso, turned it into a dance song some 20 years ago, and its title refers to the women's plaits swinging against each other with the dance. Dembo Konte takes the vocal solos, praising his patrons and singing Mandinka proverbs.

Suso, Salieu. 1993. Griot. Lyrichord, LYRCD 7418.

(Jimba Sen)

When Mandinka youth want to dance, they ask for Jimba Sen, "The Big Sound". Jimba Sen is about dancing and romance, in this case someone who could hear what was being said about him up the river, even though he was not there.

Suso, Jali Nyama. 1996. Gambie: L'art de la kora. Reissue of 1972 with other unreleased material. OCORA, C 580027.


"Jimbasengo," played here as a kora solo in tomorabaa tuning, was composed in the mid-1940s by a kora jali named Mama Suso, who adapted it from the song "Sirabaa". "Jimbasengo," unlike most songs in the repertoire, is not dedicated to a particular individual, but serves as a vehicle for proverbs and other sayings. Some of the lines typically sung are the following: "The ear is not across the river, but it can hear words from there / News never borrows a canoe, but it crosses nonetheless / Thwo great birds have collided and one has lost its wing / [Of two notable people, one has been shamed] / A river may flow without crocodiles, but its fame will rest with them."

Charry, Eric. 2000. Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.


p. 151

Some pieces with more modern themes not dedicated to any leaders in particular, such as Apollo or Jimbasengo, are considered lighter, youth music. Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, whose repertory leans heavily toward older pieces from Mali, does not play Jimbasengo because he considers it light and for young people. By the same token, some younger kora players do not fare well with the older, serious pieces that Jobarteh favors.