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Jobarteh Kunda

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The long history of Kunda is as fascinating and exceptional as the band’s sound and is reflected in its name. Kunda is the Mandingo word for clan. Each of its eight members come from different musical roots. Two of the members come from the internationally-recognized Griot family known as Jobarteh in English and Dioubate in French. The band’s co-founder, Tormenta Jobarteh, grew up in Munich and studied drums at the local Dante Augustini Institute. He toured Europe, Asia and the US with various musical ensembles until 1987 when he made the acquaintance of musicians from Gambia. They invited him for a visit to their small West African country, which is virtually enveloped by Senegal.

Tormenta’s visit to Gambia was a life-changing experience and one that continues to exert a profound impact on his life. It was there that Tormenta Jobarteh first heard the lyrical sounds of the Kora, or harp-lute, played by gifted musicians. He spent eight years in Boraba, Gambia in the company of Basuro Jobarteh, his musical mentor, and Fulladou, the Griot of Boraba. It took him this long length of time to complete intensive studies in playing the Kora, and learning the Mandika language and culture. He became so immersed in his adoptive country’s culture that he was eventually adopted by the Jobarteh family and made a Griot, with all the rights and obligations that went along with it — a unique distinction for a white non-African.

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