Jaliba Kuyateh is a prolific Gambian musician born in Niamina Dankunku Village in the Central River Region in the year 1957. As a son of a great “Kora Player”, he learnt to play the Kora from his late father, Kebba Sunkung Kuyateh at a very early age. His mother the late Aja Bakoto Mbye also contributed immensely in the development of this great musician of our times. Jaliba’s Grandfather, Wandifeng Jali was the best Kora player of his time. The Kuyatehs are respected members of the Griot family, the custodian of oral history in our communities.
Jaliba was taught by his father the art of playing Kora. His punishment for misbehaving as a small kid was to spend an evening playing the kora alone. He was well groomed by his father and today he is Gambia’s most popular Kora player.
He received his primary education in Dankunku and Pakalinding Primary Schools from 1964 to 1970, and joined the crab Island Secondary School from 1970 to 1974. He temporarily worked at Sunwing Hotel, but later joined the teaching field. He taught at Bakau Primary School until 1977, and entered Gambia College after successfully passing the College Entrance Examination. In 1979, he obtained the teachers’ Certificate with a distinction.
It was at college that he first formed a group called “Jaliba and Committee” with his fellow teachers. His first song was entitled “tesito” in which he identifies the values of hard work and encourages all Gambians to work hard to improve the lives of our people. The success of this track put him in the public domain and challenged him to further develop his skills with degree of responsibility. This led to the birth of the Kumareh Band, with more international recognitions.
In 1995 he was granted honorary citizenship of Guinea Bissau by the then President Nino Vieira. This was celebrated in grand style in Bissau. He was issued a diplomatic passport and donated a brand new car in recognition of his tremendous achievements and dominance in the use of the kora, truly a West African product.
Although known for his music with his favorite instrument” the kora”, he is also recognized for his generosity and patriotism. He has organized many concerts in support of schools, hospitals and also in particular on activities which promotes the welfare of children. He is greater lover of young kids.
Among his accolades are:
1. Gambia’s UNICEF Goodwill ambassador. The award was in recognition of the Kumareh Band’s positive contributions towards child development.
2. Goodwill ambassador of the Child Day Care Centre of the Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Ltd located at Tallinding.
3. The Bansang Hospital Maternity ward has been renamed after him.
4. The A.F.P.R.C Hospital pharmacy in Farafenni was also named after him.
5. He was awarded the man of the year 2009 by the Gambian Journalist Association.