Sona Jobarteh is a distinguished multi-instrumentalist and composer from The Gambia, West Africa. She has revealed plans to build The Gambia’s first cultural academy. Sona was born into a family of traditional musicians whose musical roles emanated from the people of Manding (the Mali Empire) dated several centuries back.
Traditionally, the Kora instrument is mainly played by male members of the family, but Sona breaks barriers to become the first professional female Kora player of our time. She is currently the biggest exporter of Gambian music, a recognition she achieved by preserving and harmonizing The Gambia’s rich cultural heritage to attract diverse global audiences. As the first music school in The Gambia, Sona’s music curriculum includes Music Theory, Instrument-making, Music Technology and so much more. Students enrolled will learn about their own cultures and be able to read and write in the indigenous languages of The Gambia.
The musician had met thousands of youth and children from around The Gambia in her search for those with natural talents for music – – and a strong desire for learning. She noticed the need for championing cultural education as a form of entertainment in an information-saturated world. One of Sona’s goals is to reinforce a cultural sense of pride among young Africans, ” My ambition is to teach children an innate sense of pride in their own culture and history. It became my ambition to make sure I contribute to this change.”
The cultural academy by Sona Jobarteh will have so many positive impacts on the economy of The Gambia. Jobateh’s long-term vision is to establish a cultural center and library resources for all African children on the continent, those in the diaspora as well. She felt disappointed that Africans would travel to Europe just to study African Academic Studies in European universities. “Why should Africans leave Africa to go and study their own cultures elsewhere? This is something that didn’t sit well with me” she told CNN.
Finally, the cultural academy of Sona Jobarteh will have both economic, social and developmental impacts on The Gambia. For the first time from post-independence, Gambian students’ will pursue a wide range of economically viable careers. They will gain a wide range of skills that will help them thrive in different careers – not just performing music. They will grow up to become culturally sound-minded professionals who can provide employment for themselves – rather than add to the number of unemployed Gambian youths.