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Black Studies Program to Host Performance of Traditional African Music and Oral History

The Creighton University Black Studies Program will present “Non-Western Culture Activities: the Function and Role of Traditional African Music” from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, in the Ahmanson Ballroom of the Harper Center, located at 602 N. 20th St. The event is free and open to the public.

Creighton history professor Baba Jallow will introduce the performances of Alhaji Papa Susso and Balla Kouyate master musicians and oral historians, with a short lecture. The musicians, will give a performance using the traditional African instruments the kora and balafon.

Susso, of Gambia, West Africa, comes from a long line of griots, oral historians of the Mandinka people. Griots are responsible for recounting tribal history and genealogy and composing songs and performances for tribal events. Susso has been playing the kora, a traditional griot instrument, since he was five years old. The kora is a 21-stringed harp-lute unique to the western part of Africa and is played only by professional musicians and oral historians.

Kouyate of Mali, West Africa, was raised as a descendant of Sundiata’s Balafaseke Kouyate, in the griot tradition. He began playing the balafon, an ancestor of the marimba and xylophone, at the age of six and spent his teenage years playing in neighboring villages.

The performance is sponsored by the Creighton University College of Arts and Sciences, Affirmative Action, and the Non-Western Studies Grant Program.