Kariya (peace upon you)!
Welcome to my first post. I'm starting this blog to chronicle my 2nd trip to The Gambia, West Africa in 9 long years. I ended up in Brikama, Gambia, after seeing an Ernest Ranglin show in London while studying abroad in 1999. I went to the show expecting the jazz-reggae hybrid I had gone crazy for in college, and instead had my mind blown with a 10-piece Senegalese mega-group. The stage was filled with strange instruments and percussion, along with an upright bass, trap kit, and Ernest on guitar. The next day, I found the cd, "In Search of the Lost Riddum," at the Virgin Megastore, and made up my mind to go to Senegal when my studies were finished.
A chance meeting with British kora player Ravi pointed me instead to that little smile curling up from the coast of Senegal, the Gambia. Surrounded on 3 sides by Senegal, and the 4th a beautiful coastline, I was told it was cheaper to get to from England, that they spoke English in stead of French, and he could hook me up with a place to live. He told me to contact Lucy Duran at the SOAS, and she would set me up.
It took me a while, but I figured out that this was the School for Oriental and African studies when I saw a sign telling me it was located at the next Tube stop on the way to school one day.
I wandered the halls until I found Lucy's office. I knocked, she came to the door, and within a day I was on the phone with Dembo Konte, a world renowned Kora player and Jali of the Mandinka people.
Long story short after a seemingly hazy, "yes, I pick you up at airport," I bought my ticket and after the necessary shots and other paperwork, I was on my way to one of the most amazing places I'd ever been to hear and learn some of the most amazing music I had ever experienced.
While there, I made many friends, most notably Jali Bakary Konteh, Dembo's son.
So, years go by, right, and I'm always thinking in the back of my head, "why have i not gone back?" Then guilt started to kick in, which I realize now was just the fire I needed sparked under my ass to get me Africa bound. After over 5 years of being out of contact, I tracked down Jali Bakary over the internet, found other friends I'd met there on myspace, and am now 3 weeks out from my trip....
last minute plans are taking most of my headspace right now, most notably trying to firgure out how to get the solar system I plan to gift them (hopefully with the generous contributions of freinds and family) there. Its looking to be a few grand at the least. but I think I can do it. If you're out there reading this and want to contribute, just contact me through this blog...more up soon.