One of the finest outstanding Gambian artists is Jaliba Kuyateh, the Gambia Tourism Board's Tourism Goodwill Ambassador, also known as the King of Kora. At this year's ITB Berlin Tourism Trade Fair he became the rave of the fair as he performed to thrill the audience at the Gambia stall.
Without any special introduction but just with only his Kora instrument which is identity, he quickly captured attention of everyone that has a glance at him and made them wait to watch and enjoy his show longer than one can imagine. With less time of play he won the heart of different journalists from different countries to the fair.
When you meet Jaliba Kuyateh performing, you will think he has a PhD in music. But it is not the case as he was a professional teacher in his early days. He has taught for many years in various schools before he finally choose music as a career.
Throughout the trade fair Jaliba, on daily basis made the headline especially for exporting our culture abroad.
One of the print medias German captioned its story as - The King of Pop from Gambia: Harp Player Jaliba is guest and the article read
"Between the tables at the booth of Gambia in Hall 21 he sits: Jaliba Kuyateh (59). In his home country they call him only the "King of Kora". Since his childhood he plays the 21-string harp instrument. Today he belongs to the stars in The Gambia and he traveled with his band already to the USA. "The Kora is an instrument that probably originated 350 years ago in The Gambia," he says. "Today it is played in several West African countries."
Before his career as a musician, he worked as an English and math teacher at a primary school in Bakau, a small town on the coast of The Gambia. "Several years of school and college," he says, "does not manage everyone there." In Bakau the river Gambia flows into the sea after winding for more than a thousand kilometers through the mountains and the savannah. Even in Bakau, a piece of wilderness continues: Here lies the holy crocodile basin of Kachikally. Crocodiles are revered here as sacred animals. Tourists are allowed to touch them, which is to bring luck. Kuyateh has not done it so far, he says, but he was lucky as well. "I'm coming around all over the world." He has also played in Berlin and Munich. However, at the ITB, he appears for the first time.
When he is not on tour, Kuyateh lives in Brikama, which is a little further in the inland of Gambia. There are just more than 30 degrees. "I am used to the difference in climate," says Kuyateh.