Basirou Suso photographed by Alfred Tamakloe
Basirou Suso was born and raised in Gambia in a family of hereditary musicians. He embodies all the traditions of the griots or jalis of West Africa. After being trained as a professional musician at L'Institut National des Arts in Bamako, Mali he returned home to form his own group "Manding Kono" in Gambia and to teach at the music school "Association Kunta Kinte" in the village of Juffureh.
The Jalis or Jeli (pl. jalolu) have through ages held the position of
keeping the history and genealogies of various clans and families , composed and performed
songs honouring principal figures in Manding history. The profession is common in various
West African societies. Formally the 'griots' were the counsellors of kings and spiritual
leaders, they conserve the constitutions of kingdoms by memory work alone and it is among
the griots the kings used to choose the tutors for young princes. In the very hierarchical
society of Africa before colonisation, where everyone found his place, the griot appears
as one of the most important of his society, because it is he who, for want of archives,
records the customs, traditions and governmental principles of kings. Basirous family had
been one of such griots for generations.
What was once a form of entertainment only for kings and princes is now widely known and appreciated by many people around the world.
Basirou now lives in Danmark and can be contacted at the African Music
check also: http://www.basiru1.com
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Last updated on April 3, 2010