Segments in this Video

Circumcision Camp (01:46)


Gambians perform dances during a circumcision ceremony.

Sacred Washing (02:11)

Circumcised boys are led to a sacred washing place. Traditionally, washing took place in a lake, but drought has forced the use of well water. A person with special powers wards off evil spirits.

Boys Dance (01:33)

Boys perform dances individually at a ceremony.

Kanute (02:56)

The Kanute extended family has impressive musical talent. One member plays an instrument; another sings.

Kanute Grandfather (01:54)

A man says his grandfather came to Gambia with his musical instruments, he was the first jali (singer/musician) in Gambia. People feared the king's reaction.

Lambang (02:40)

Jalis play Lambang for their own entertainment; husbands play for wives to dance.

Stringed Instrument (02:44)

A particular stringed instrument is constructed into symmetry and is said to connect with supernatural powers and to have accompanied warriors in battle.

Harvest Dance (02:38)

A mother performs a harvest dance, animated by water drum music. Food eaten during the performance is said to cure infertility.

Ancient Song (03:11)

Performers play one of the oldest Mandinka songs, originally composed for a famous emperor.

Amplifying Wife's Song (02:52)

The singer's husband amplifies her song with genealogies and epic narratives. A patron offers the woman singer money.

Mandinka Musical Legend (01:53)

Sunjata found the first musician, Balafaa Seexu Kuyaate, in the hollow of a tree; his instrument had only three keys.

Naming Ceremony (03:35)

At a naming ceremony, a baby is brought before elders for a blessing. A woman sings.

Wedding Song (02:00)

Drums accompany a wedding song, commemorating the marriage of people from two different tribes.

One-Stringed Instrument (01:42)

A man plays a one-stringed instrument connected with supernatural forces and narrates stories. A player is said to be able to see the future.

Circumcision Ceremony (03:11)

A circumcision event brings together boys from numerous ethnic groups in Gambia. Dancers perform. Someone plays a double xylophone.

Inspection (01:53)

Elders inspect circumcised boys before they are returned to their families. Dances continue.

Kora (02:03)

A man plays the Kora, a string instrument.

Singing (02:31)

A woman sings while a man plays instruments. Her husband comes from the provinces but now lives near the capital, Banjul.

Jaliyaa Practice and Change (02:12)

A practitioner talks about the first Jali. Jaliyaa used to be hereditary, but is now more open. A practitioner laments the departure from traditional Jaliyaa and the playing of music for money.

First Baloo Song (03:05)

A man talks about the training of female Jaliyaa in his wife's family. The first piece played on the baloo is a controversial question among historians, he says. He plays what is arguably the first such song.

Playing Instrument (02:42)

A man plays a piece on a stringed instrument. The piece used to be played on the kontingo. He says different types of jalis are recent; in the East, jaliyaa was indivisible.

Son Accompanies Father (01:32)

A son accompanies his father on a musical instrument.

Kanute Family Performs (04:21)

The Kanute family performs at its compound, singing and playing instruments.

Credits: Born Musicians: Traditional Music from the Gambia (01:03)

Credits: Born Musicians: Traditional Music from the Gambia

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Born Musicians: Traditional Music from the Gambia

Part of the Series : Repercussions: A Celebration of African-Influenced Music
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Traveling from the remote villages of the Upper River Division to the nation’s capital, Banjul, this program focuses on the music of the Mandinkas and their jalis, the society’s hereditary professional musicians. Displaying the delicate beauty of such instruments as the 21-string harp-lute and the xylophone and the powerfully expressive singing of the instrumentalists’ wives, Gambian music is presented as an essential part of ceremonial occasions. Performers include The Kanute Family, Momadu Camara, Aamadu Jeebaate, and Mawdo Suusoo. (60 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL10509

ISBN: 978-0-7365-6549-3

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.