Music lovers invited to enjoy tunes

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 12, 2012

Jali Morikeba Kouyate, a master kora musician from Senegal, West Africa, will perform live at Jefferson College on U.S. 61 North at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 13. Admission is free.

The kora is a 21-stringed West African instrument with a calabash sounding-board used by griots (storytellers) in telling African history, much as was seen in the TV movie “Roots.”

The kora has the pleasing sounds of a harp, and when played by an expert, it can lift and electrify an audience. The African history of the banjo, guitar and violin will also be told by the griot.

Email newsletter signup

This rare opportunity to hear the kora played will be the occasion for a visit by Dr. Artemus Gaye, a Liberian descendant of the African Prince Abdul Rahman bin Ibrahima, who was enslaved for 40 years on Thomas Foster’s plantation north of Natchez on today’s Steam Plant Road.

Dr. Gaye’s ancestor, Prince Ibrahima, was born 250 years ago in 1762 in Futa Jallon where his father, Ibrahima Sori the Great was king. Futa Jallon was located in the highlands of today’s Republic of Guinea.

Captured in war in 1788, Prince Ibrahima eventually obtained his freedom in 1828. He was en route to his homeland in Futa Jallon with his wife Isabella when he died in Liberia in 1829.

A year later, two of his sons and their families were freed with funds the Prince had raised before leaving the U.S., and they joined their mother Isabella in Liberia.

Dr. Gaye, a descendant of one of those sons, will soon be returning to his native Liberia for an extended stay after more than 10 years in exile caused by the Liberian Civil War in which he was nearly killed.

Dr. Gaye will participate in the MAAFA Commemoration of enslaved African ancestors at the Natchez Landing Under-the-Hill which will begin Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and then proceed to the Forks of the Road.

The playing of the kora at 11 a.m. will start the fifth annual Black and Blue Living History event at Jefferson College.

This year’s Civil War program begins at 1 p.m. and will focus on the roles played by African American women as nurses and the roles of African American men who joined the Union Navy as sailors on the Mississippi as early as 1862.

The day will end with actress Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux performing in her role as Harriet Tubman at 3 p.m. at Jefferson College.

All events at Jefferson College are sponsored by the Friends of the Forks of the Road Society Inc. and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and are free and open to the public.

Food vendors will be on site at Jefferson College. For comfort, bring a lawn chair.


David S. Dreyer is a local historian.