Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bubu King Ahmed Janka Nabay Passes Away in Sierra Leone

Ahmed Janka Nabay
"King of Bubu Music" 
Ahmed Janka Nabay, who popularized the uniquely Sierra Leone  "Bubu Music" has sadly passed away in his country of birth Sierra Leone at the age of 54.

Bubu is traditional music of the Temne ethnic group of Northern Sierra Leone, but it's infectious horns and captivating beats always made it a popular form of music in all corners of the country.

For those of us who grew up around the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, Bubu was the staple music of the popular lantern parades that were part of  the Muslim festivities associated with the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Bubu added a unique Sierra Leonean flair to the Muslim festivities.
Many people occasionally associate Bubu as being somehow affiliated with Islam, but Bubu Music predates Islam in Sierra Leone and is part of the indigenous musical landscape of the country.

Ahmed Janka Nabay rose to prominence in Sierra Leone during the tough years of the civil war when he released a popular hit "Somebody" that infused the traditional horns and drums of Bubu music with western instruments,  giving Bubu Music a modern feel

Bubu is not for the slow, it both fast paced and groovy, requiring arduous quick dust raising movements. Bubu combined with the local brews of Sierra Leone was a potent mixed that had people gyrating from dusk to dawn.
Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang 

Ahmed Janka Nabay moved to the USA around 2003. Between odd jobs here and there, he joined with some local musicians on the US scene to form a band called Janka Nabay and the Bubu gang that recorded several songs and was very popular in the indie music performance circuit.

Last year Janka Nabay went back to Sierra Leone and died last night after some stomach illness. He will be buried tomorrow April 4th in Freetown as his label reports.

Because of his pioneering work in pioneering Bubu Music, Ahmed Janka Nabay will always be remembered as the King of Bubu Music. He joins a revered list of Sierra Leone musicians such as Dr. Oloh, Ebenezer Calendar, Salia Koroma, and S.E. Rogie, to name but a few, who introduced the world to the tapestry of music that is at the heart 
of the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone. We will miss him.

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