Niam is twelve. He had been abandoned by his parents in the streets of Bamako but was taken in by Cekili Diabate, a good and generous man. Cekili is also a Jali, a folk musician/orator more commonly known as a griot. He plays the kora, a stringed instrument half way between a guitar and a harp with 21 nylon strings and a sound box made from half a calabash and covered by a cowhide. Niam blended very quickly into this artistic family, but the challenge for him is more than just being assimilated both sentimentally and affectionately, for the kora is traditionally taught orally from father to son. Cekili Diabate’s natural son, Tumani, is himself a great kora player with an international reputation. Niam wants to become a Jali. He wants to learn everything his adoptive father knows and imitate his big “half-brother” to prove that he too is worthy of the Diabate name.
Directed by: Anita Bonan • A Boréales Production • Release Year: 1999
26 minutes • Color