The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
25th of July, 2014

O, Kanou

I love this song entirely to vapour. To essence. To spirit.
Kanou (“Fellowship”) by Ballaké Sissoko and Toumani Diabaté.

This song is found on Ballaké’s album, Tomora. Now, in normal circumstances, Toumani takes the lead on kora, and Ballaké follows. This is also what happened in the times of their fathers, when they played together on Ancient Strings and other pieces, and cultivated a multi-generational kanou which their sons carried on (and remixed on New Ancient Strings and other pieces).

But now the album was Ballaké’s, so Toumani supplied back energy, while Ballaké’s generous style had the right of way. And how Touman’s energy burned! How fierce the basses? How ready the responses! But how deep and wise Ballaké’s calls! These two had been genuises at New Ancient Strings. At this one, they were both old fathers, like their fathers, and … man.

Absolutely inspired kora griot genius. I lift my hands in worship to the Holy Spirit when this song plays, just as readily as I do with Hillsong’s Potter’s Hand. Now, if you do not know this style, you realise there are no lyrics and it is just two men with a kora each. That is what David did; so I just line the psalms over it in my spirit, and thereby are fulfilled the words that were spoken, “Greater is He that is in you than the devil that is in the World.” (1 John 4:4). This 1 John is the one that identifies Islam as an anti-Christ, and it defeats the fact that the genuis musicians here are … Muslims.

Anyway, this song’s title means “Friendship” in Bambara. Or, as I translate it, “Fellowship.” This is what is found in that beautiful and powerful Pauline doxology, “… and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”