An amazing sound

Listen to the amazing sound of a kora as this banjo-like instrument is played by an expert.

Inside, Mamadou Diabaté is hard at work. He's a griot, someone who performs songs to music. But he also makes kora instruments, including for his cousin, Toumani Diabaté, a world-famous kora player.

When asked how old the instrument is, Mamadou Diabaté exclaims ‘ooh la la’ at such a difficult question. It’s hard to say exactly. But he knows the kora has been played for many generations and originally came from the area of Africa which is now Guinea Bissau.

He shows how a kora is made, starting with the dried shell of a calabash. The half-shell of this large squash-like fruit makes the body of the instrument and is covered with animal hide. Carved wooden hand-holds are fixed inside and these sit just behind the strings and board.

Traditional instruments remain popular in Mali and the kora workshop seems to be doing a good trade.