Rare footage of Djimo Kouyate (1946-2004), one of the preeminent jali (praise singers) of the second half of the 20th century. In this video, Kouyate plays and sings, accompanying himself on his primary instrument, the kora (harp-lute), also introducing the instrument and speaking about the songs he has performed.
Filmed during a workshop Kouyate presented at the 23rd Kent State University Folk Festival, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA, February 24, 1990. Filmed by Dr. Terry E. Miller.
Born in Diana, in the Tambacounda Region of eastern Senegal (which used to be part of the Mali Empire before the borders were created to separate Mali from Senegal), Djimo Kouyate was a jali, oral historian, and member of the 149th generation of the Kouyate family, one of the four traditional jali families of the Mandinka people, who have performed as praise singers for the royalty of the Mali Empire since its establishment in the 13th century.
Prior to settling in the United States, Kouyate served the Cultural Ministry of Senegal for 20 years as a founding member of Le Ballet National du Sénégal, during which time he toured 59 countries on six continents; and served as instructor of kora music at the Institut National des Arts in Dakar. He directed and co-founded Memory of African Culture, Inc., a cultural arts and education organization based in Washington, D.C. since 1983, and was the leader of Mamaya African Jazz ensemble. Jali Djimo Kouyate served as an adjunct lecturer of African music and ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland from 1996 until his death in 2004. He shared his artistry in performance on various instruments of the jali and Manding traditions, including the 21-string kora, the 6-string doso nkoning, the balo (xylophone), and rhythmic presentations on the koutiro and djembe drum orchestras of Mandinka and Bambara traditions, respectively.
He taught as a guest lecturer at numerous universities throughout the mid-Atlantic, southern and mid-west regions of the United States and presented lecture-demonstrations and residencies in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida public and private schools through state and private arts-In-education programs.
Since relocating to the United States, Jali Djimo Kouyate performed as a solo artist, and with Memory of African Culture Performing Company, Mamaya African Jazz, the Manding Griot Ensemble, and the Kouyate Family at various venues internationally and nationally. Kouyate made eight recordings, including "Djimo: West African Kora Music," "African Odyssey," "Fa Kae: Djimo Kouyate - Manding Kora Music," "Yankadi: Djimo Kouyate - Manding Drum Rhythms," "Djimo Kouyate & Mamaya African Jazz," "Goree: Djimo Kouyate and Mamaya African Jazz," "Diali Djimo Kouyate: Khabila (Family Lineage)," and "Diali Djimo Kouyate - Wato Sita: This is the Time...for Peace." He participated in international exchange and artistic development projects in Mexico, Malaysia, and his home community in Tambacounda, Senegal. In addition, he contributed to the development of several musical arrangements for theatrical and dance productions at the State University of New York at Brockport, Florida International University, Indiana University, Catholic University, Duke University, and Howard University.
Jali Djimo Kouyate, a traditionalist of the Manding culture, recognized family as his highest priority. He sincerely accepted his responsibility as father to his children and the children of his siblings whether biological, adopted or extended. There are many who acknowledged him as "Baba" and respected his teaching and guidance. Diali Kouyate's legacy is best described by the words of his son, Amadou, who is a fine jali in his own right: "As in the traditional context of Fasiya, that which is passed through the generations, I am a Diali. Often synonymous to the French word 'griot'--a storyteller, I have inherited a duty far beyond the comprehension of any story. As the 150th generation of the Kouyate clan, it is my responsibility to preserve the history of the Manding peoples and civilizations, and hand this knowledge down to my children."
More information about Djimo Kouyate:www.memoryofafricanculture.org/kg.htm
Senegal Music Videos