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Papa Susso

Papa Susso was born, 1947, Sotuma Sere, way up river in Gambia. His father was jelikuntigi; back in the 10th century AD, it was the Susso family that was given the gift of the Kora, the 21-string harp-lyre, that is the iconic instrument of the West African griots. Papa was working as an economist for the Gambian government, when he saw that the traditions he had learned as a youth (he began playing kora at 4 years old) were dying out, and he returned to the life of the itinerant poet/musician, keeper of the oral tradition, genealogist, and epicist. He has worked with symphonies and rock groups, he’s released four CDs, and his next recording project is Tamoroh: the Lost Tradition, songs that Papa believes he is the last to know.

How Kora Was Born

This story begins long long long long ago / So long ago that it was a place not a time / There was a man / He was so alone / The only person he could talk to was Africa

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The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2020

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