Fode Sissoko with 2021 ACTA Apprentice Makeda Kumasi. Photo courtesy Fode Sissoko.

Fode Sissoko

West African kora

West African kora
Self-portrait courtesy of the artist, Fode Sissoko.

Fode Sissoko is the grandson of the king of the kora, Soundioulou Cissokho, of Senegal. Sissoko, who carries on that ancestral wisdom in Los Angeles, has been playing the kora instrument, and other Mande instruments for over 40 years. He has toured globally with renowned companies including Ballet Bugarabu and with Baba Olatunji. Sissoko also leads kora and drum lessons in L.A.’s Leimert Park and across the city.

This gives me a life I cannot describe. I am coming from a very important role of keeping the identity and the 2200 year old culture. I am keeping the tradition of the kora and it is one of the heavenly instruments, which is the origination of the European harp. It is played in the most sacred places including the churches and the Masque. I am Mandinko and this traditional art form is everything I am. It is in my blood line and is my blood.

— Fode Sissoko

Makeda Kumasi. Photo: We 3 Productions.

Apprenticeship Program


West African kora
with apprentice 
Makeda Kumasi

Fode Sissoko, a master of the West African kora in Mande music, will be training his apprentice, Makeda Kumasi in traditional rhythms and techniques of the kora, including instrument tuning and maintenance, plucking styles, increasing finger speed, and ear training. Makeda is a Lecturer of West African Dance at the University of California Riverside, and is based in San Bernardino. This program will allow Makeda to receive rare training and provide professional development that will improve skill and ability as a cultural bearer and professor of West African Dance.

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