Soundioulou Cissokho




« as precious as the maternal milk »



orn in 1921 in Ziguinchor in Casamance, Kémokho Kandara Bamody Cissokho known as « Soundioulou » Cissokho is the son of the famous  korafoláA korafolá is kora player in mandinka (who is able to make the kora talk) - korafolálu, plural., Kimintang Cissokho alias Bah Djaly, jèlíjèlí (plural, jèlílu) is a bard, a loremaster, and praise-singer in the Manding areas whose functions are story-telling, speaking about lineages, singing and playing music as he wants and hears it. of the king Abdou N'DiayeThis song is dedicated to Abdou Ndiaye (1850 ? -1925). Abdou Ndiaye was a Muslim trader, a trader quickly especially in the slave trade, initially installed at Bougouli in the Middle Casamance... Read more, and of Caroline Da Silva, daughter of a king and of a princess of Guinea Bissau.


dot At the end of the primary school, he learned the kora under the guidance of his paternal uncle Cirifo Kouyate and distinguished himself soon by his mastery of  « Kuruntu KelefaLitterally, « Kuruntu Kelefa » means « Kelefa trailed on his chariot ». Indeed, history said that the horses of and Kelefa Saneh, to which that song is devoted, were trained to move to the trot on the rhythm of that song. So was sung that song during traveling and triumphs of the hero ... Read more. » (« Kelefa SaneThis song evokes the old conflict between Manding and Fula ethnies and this conflict has increased since the end of XIX° century and ended to bloody wars... »). His uncle and a friend of him predict a great career. « Ba Dialy (...) told his brother Djely Mady what had predicted one of his friends: " God gifted your son of something more than the others, he must learn the kora, he'll be a great Dialy and a famous artist, everybody will know his name, he will be a king, a mansake (king) of the Dialy. »


At the age of 17, he became famous with the epic song panegyric devoted to the Cissokho,  DiandjumbaLegends tell that «Janjon» was (nick?) name of a sorcerer chaman like with great surnatural powers in the very early times of the Manding... Read more.. In 1948, he toured in Africa and Europe with Keïta Fodeba's Pan-African ballet of and became the idol of the West Africans who called him by the nickname given by his parents, « Soundioulou », diminutive of  « Soundioudji »  i.e :  « the maternal milk » : « indeed, for his parents who had lost many children, Soundioulou was as precious as the milk for the child ».

source : Soundioulou Cissokho, «king of the kora» José Lapeyrère - translated by LNB

dot Thanks to his dexterity, subtle rhythmic and melodic kora playing, innovative creations and interpretations of folksongs of the traditional repertoire like  « KairaDuring the years 1940 and 1950, when the movement for independence started, «Kaira» was the name adopted by the association of the young jelis of the city Kita... Read more about. » and « SimbongSimbo is one of the most famous songs of the Mandenka traditionist folksongs. The tune is also known as The Anthem of the Bow.Initialy, the simbo is the whistle of the Malinke hunter... More about. »,  Soundioulou signed with La Voix de Son Maître french label. This quality-label will record in 1950s several 78 discs broadcasted on Radio Senegal and Radio Saint-Louis. After his mariage with Rokhaya Fall  Ina, he established in Guinea Bissau and toured in all the Manding area countries (Bissau, Katiour-Katiao, Bissora, Tiour, Mansua and Kantiongou). Soundioulou Cissokho got married with a second woman who was the daughter of a noble stockbreeder, Hawa Kaloussaye, who died on October 5th, 1994, a few months after the death of her husband. His third wife, Maïmouna Galissa Kouyate, a great  jèlíjèlí (plural, jèlílu) is a bard, a loremaster, and praise-singer in the Manding areas whose functions are story-telling, speaking about lineages, singing and playing music as he wants and hears it.  from Guinean Bissau who had a perfect knowledge of the Manding repertoire, has accompanied him until her death.


dot In 1962, Soundioulou Cissokho joined the « Theatre du Palais » ruled by Maurice Sonar Senghor, the founder in 1948 in Paris of a ballet of percussions and dances of Africa - both creators knew each other in 1950s. Soundioulou will be the founder member of traditional lyric Group when it became the National Daniel Sorano de Dakar theatre in 1965. In these post independence years , he was often invited to the presidential Palace by Leopold Sedar Senghor to enliven official ceremonies solo with his kora.


« The royal couple of the African traditional music »


dot After his famous live tour at the worldwide Festival of the Negro Arts in Dakar in 1966, he has been decorated Knight of the Order of the Senegalese Merit by L.S. Senghor. In 1967, he leaved the Daniel Sorano theatre. Invited to the inauguration of the Palace of the People in Conakry, he has been crowned by the title « king of kora  » by Ahmed Sekou Toure. In the Guinean capital, he heared about a girl of 18 years in the gold voice, Maa Hawa Kouyaté, who became his wife.


dot The complicity in the duet is so intense that their forenames « Soundioulou and Mawa » are writtten on the calabash of the kora of Soundioulou ; all fan are delighted by the titles like Bandian« Bandian » is a song devoted to Bandian Sidibé. Bandian Sidibé was a great ivory sculptor in Kankan (Guinea), friend of young people and griots, who died suddenly in 1947. ... Read more.Maïmouna Kouyate, a homage to his late wife, but also KedoKedo is a song was composed near 1865 after the war of the Moslim Fula people versus the pagan kingdom of N'Kaabu..., SoryThis song tells about Fabou (Faboli) Daboloba Toure, so-called Keme Birama who was the younger brother of Samory Toure... Read more., Emile Badiane  (minister, deputy and mayor of Bignona in Casamance) and especially Mariama (his favourite creation).


dot May 8th, 1994, Soundioulou Cissokho died naturally in his domicile, Soundioulou, the child who was not destined to play kora. Two days of mourning had been decreed in the Senegal and in Guinea for this great virtuoso who contributed so much to the popularize kora  in the world.


dot Josée Lapeyrère, late French psychoanalyst, poet, writer and manager of his son Djeour Cissokho, told his life and art in a great book : Soundioulou Cissokho - King of the kora. (Allalaké - Dakar, 2000).

  Soundioulou Cissokho & Mahawa Kouyaté (Face A) - Lalo Keba Dramé (Face B), Folklore du Sénégal - Musiques et chants traditionels, © L.P. Disques M.A.G., releas. 1967
  Soundioulou Cissokho & Mahawa Kouyaté, Le couple royal de la musique traditionnelle africaine à Paris, © L.P. 1970 - reissued Bellot records 2010
Folklore du Sénégal
A- Soundioulou Cissokho
1. Bandian« Bandian » est un chant éponyme, en forme d'hommage à la personnalité importante dans les années 40 en Guinée qu'était Bandian Sidibé. Bandian Sidibé (Sidimé) était un sculpteur émérite d'ivoire, commerçant prospère, et ami des jeunes et des griots... Lire la suite.
2. Sakhadougou
3. AlalakeCet air est le plus célèbre de l'ancienne tradition mandingue. On pense qu'il existe depuis l'époque de Soundjata et qu'il était joué au bala et au n'koni avant d'être adapté à la kora... Lire la suite.
B- Lalo Keba Dramé
1. Bamba BodianCette chanson (Bamba Bodian) fut composée à la gloire d'Alhaji Bamba Bodian ou Ledjè, un riche commerçant pieux de la fin du XIX° siècle, roi de Brikama (Gambie) qui fut aussi un généreux mécène (djatigui) pour les griots de Gambie. Beaucoup de Gambiens le considèrent comme le précurseur de l'état moderne de Gambie... Lire la suite.
2. Maki TaraTaara c'est l'air du départ (pour le pays des ancêtres), autrement l'éloge funèbre par excellence. C'est un chant très ancien, d'origine peuhle, composé sur le rythme du Yeela. La Taara, chant anonyme à l'origine, fut renouvelée pour plusieurs hauts personnages au cours de l'histoire des Peuhls et finit par rester attachée à la figure du grand conquérant peulh du XIX° siècle, Cheick Omar Tall dit El Hadj Omar... Lire la suite
3. Saraba
Le couple royal ...
1. Diouwana
2. DiakhaDiakha est un chant consacré à la ville sainte du même nom fondée au début du XVe siècle par El Hadj Salim Souare (Suware), dit Diakha Laye ou Mbemba Laye ; noble soninké parti du Macina (Mali), Diakha Laye s'installa dans le Bambouck...Lire la suite.
3. Alla Leno
4. Samba
5. Dioula Dekere« Jula Jekereh » raconte l'aventure d'un riche commerçant, Jekereh Bayo. Au XIX° siècle dans la région du Manda (sud-est de la Gambie), Jekereh Bayo dit aussi « Jula Jekereh » eut l'idée extravagante, pour mieux étaler sa richesse, de célébrer la Tabaski, 10 jours plus tard que la coutume et de manière particulière... Lire la suite.
6. Dia BannaCe titre s'inspire du chant traditionnel «Bani». Bani évoque la guerre des Peulhs musulmans contre le royaume païen de N'Kaabu et plus particulièrement le début de cette guerre déclenchée à la fin du XIX° siècle, la guerre de Manda... Lire la suite.

Soundioulou & Mahawa - Sakho DuguSakhodougou is a song that can be dated exactly in the historical chronology. It was composed in 1880, when Malinke allied pushed back the Fula people of Niagossola to the Birgo land...

Soundioulou & Mahawa - Bandian« Bandian » is a song devoted to Bandian Sidibé. Bandian Sidibé was a great ivory sculptor in Kankan (Guinea), friend of young people and griots, who died suddenly in 1947. ... Read more. -

Synthesis of :

- © José Lapeyrère, Soundioulou Cissokho, roi de la kora [bibliography]


- Nago Seck review 2008 - © Afrisson [see Manding music web sites]




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