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Jula Jekere (Hardino Tuning)

Jula Jekere (Hardino Tuning)

Hardino tuning. This is a traditional and very popular song commemorating a wealthy trader (jula) named Jekere Bayo who lived in Gambia in 19th century. He was so wealthy and powerful that many stories have grown up around him. One story relates how Jekere decided that instead of observing the traditional prayers at the end of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting), he would stage his own prayer service a week later, and sent his jails to spread this information to the neighborhood kings. Another story told by Suso tells of his extravagant sacrifice for the feast following these prayers, for which he butchered 100 sheep, 100 cows, 100 goats, 100 camels, and 100 horses. Only the intervention of his jali, who sang this song to Jekere, prevented him from sacrificing 100 slaves as well. Foday Musa Suso was born in Pasamasi, Gambia in 1950 and after spending his childhood in Banjul, the capitol of Gambia, he was sent back to Pasamasi to study kora with Saikou Suso, a recognized kora master. Such an apprenticeship is a standard feature of learning music in Manding because it is considered important for achieving proper discipline and concentration. Unlike most musicians in Manding society, Suso’s talents are shared among many instruments, including the bala (a gourd xylophone) and the doso ngore (a hunter’s harp). But as a kora virtuoso, Suso seeks a wider audience for new expressions of his music. He performs traditional pieces alongside those songs that are more recently composed, which tend to be more popular among younger fans. In addition to performing in traditional settings in Gambia, Suso has taught kora and other instruments at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. He has also worked with a group of young musicians in Chicago, experimenting with a blend of Manding and American popular music styles.