The Chedo song that the late Musa Ngum sang in Mbalax eulogises a woman who suffers abuse and torment due to her lower rank/status within her husband’s royal household in the then Kabou empire. Many people don’t know the meaning of KUDAAH be Lonbi Faala, Turulan duuka Be Lonbi Menkan (the pounding wood will kill ‘Lonbi’).
Lonbi Banora was the wife of a Mansa Neman Sanneh in the fortress territory in Kabou. Each Kabou region is separated by boundaries and borders. The protection and fortification is under the custody of the warlord ‘king’ who is also under the rulership or tutelage of the ‘Mama Mansa’ who resides in Kansala.
Lonbi Banora happens to be married to Mansa Neman Sanneh. The problematic fact was that she was a freed slave, or servant. All the other wives of the king ‘Neman Sanneh’ despised him marrying a servant. And the co-wives gave Lonbi Banora hell.
The suffering she endured, the cooking, the pounding of maize, millet, rice and other food stuffs using the wooden log called ‘Kudah’ caused hard great pain. Yet she endured and continues to do her duties.
The husband’s frequent travels means Lonbi is left at the mercy of her co-wives and the servants. She is abused and overworked.
However, her freedom and peace came when her 11 children all became very prominent within their fortress. They stopped all abuses, all insult and all denigration of their mother. Not before the griots coin a song. ‘Kudaah Bi lonbi faala’.
All her 10 sons became military commanders and warlords who took charge of fortresses. Even up to the fall of the Kabou Empire, none of her children fortress fell. They all resisted the invasion and never surrendered. Famous among her sons is ‘Neman Kunba, Neman Kunto, Harr Niman, Kunku kunku Neman, Terena Neman
Hence, the Chedo song has a part that immortalises a woman who endured and overcame adversity. Next time you hear the Chedo song, remember Lonbi Banora, a woman of substance.Ps: The Chedo song has several parts and historical significance to each Kora string.
It is played for about 40 minutes, one single song, this is because it is an event-relevant-historical narrative composition, not a song for dance or mere entertainment. Musa Ngum did brilliant by taking a small portion and making it a simple entertainment tune. Abii fooh!