Education with Music and Culture at its Heart: The Gambia Academy

Sona Jobarteh has a vision for the future of education in Africa. Sona is the first female professional kora-player who has achieved world-wide fame and has an international following. Her financial success enabled her, in 2015, to establish an academy in rural Gambia where children can learn to play the kora, balafon and drums (jembe and dundun): instruments once traditionally the preserve of men from griot families. The young students also learn singing and dance as well as a full range of academic subjects.

Sona is from a griot family, a hereditary class of musicians from a cultural tradition with a seven hundred year old history (see previous post about the kora). To keep pace with modern society change is inevitable and necessary but the high standard of music making that resulted from the old griot tradition need not be lost. The Gambia’s heritage of music and dance can continue to be passed on to new generations, by integrating it into education for children from all backgrounds. And Sona’s wider vision, which she is implementing now in the Gambia, is reform of the curriculum throughout the continent, so that children gain the life skills and confidence to flourish and develop, as individuals, as a community and as the future of Africa.

In the following clip, from 2018, Sona talks about her vision for The Gambia Academy. I find this truly inspirational.

Hear from the children themselves as they go about their school day.

Read more about The Gambia Academy Note that they are looking for volunteers, funding and guess what? You can go there to learn to play the kora, balafon or drums or to study dance.

Website: Sona Jobarteh

For me, music is at the heart of everything when it comes to communicating and bringing about change in the world.

Sona Jobarteh

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