Jali Nyama Suso from Bakau (born circa 1925; died 1991) is acknowledged as one of the greatest kora players of the 20th century. Born Mohamadu Lamin Suso, Jali Nyama was one of the first artists to bring the kora to international attention through his work as a performer, teacher and historian.

By the age of 8 he was already playing the kora but his career as a griot was severely hampered at the age of 16 by the loss of his leg. However, undeterred, he moved into radio in 1956 and went on to establish his own weekly radio show which ran for over 20 years.

In 1971 he was invited to teach at the University of Washington where he recorded his first album, Gambie: L’Art de la Kora - Jali Nyama Suso. This was the first international album of solo kora which featured him both playing and singing. He also contributed as a Gambian historical advisor to Alex Haley in the celebrated world-wide television series, Roots.

In the 80’s he toured in UK, France, Sweden and Germany leaving his distinct artistic imprint on the world. He is remembered by kora players for his brilliance of tone and his distinctive colours and timbres he brought to the instrument. He is also remembered as the composer of the Gambia national anthem which is based on the traditional melody of Fode Kabba. He passed away in 1991 from tuberculosis after several years of illness.

Jali Nyama Suso



A documentary film on the Making of the Kora featuring Jali Nyama Suso, Alhaji Bai Konteh, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh and Malamini Jobarteh. Although never originally  intended for release this archival film by Roderick Knight captures some of the finest kora players of a generation working in their element to demonstrate the making and performing of the Kora.

Duration: 14:06

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Faballa Kanouté

Alhagie Bai Konteh


Alhagie Mbaye