Gambian legendary Musician Musa Afia Ngum


By Mamour Mbenga

Gambian legendary Musician Musa Afia Ngum finally laid to restMusa Ngum
Musa afia Ngum, alias Akasa, the legendary Gambian musician has passed
away and is laid to rest in the Mouride religious city of Touba in the
neighbouring republic of Senegal. The son of Pa Antouman Ngum and Ya
Ramou Nyang of Banjul, was born in 1953 in Fatoto, Kantora District,
Upper River Region in The Gambia. It is said that Musa Afia Ngum
became interested in music at a very young age.
Musa Ngum fell sick a couple of hours after the show that was
organized to celebrate his 40 years anniversary in the entertainment
arena. Musa was reported dead early morning on Sunday 11 October 2015
in Hopital Le Dantec l in Dakar Plateau section of the Senegalese
capital. He was finally laid to rest on Monday 12 October in the presence
of thousands of mourners from both The Gambia and Senegal including
his family, friends, fans, musicians and religious personalities and
government officials.
Musa Ngum was reported dead about 2 months ago when he was gearing up
to travel to London back in August.
Foroyaa visited Musa ngum’s residence in kololi the day of the funeral, to conduct an interview with the family.
Musa’s wife by the name Sohna Jobe spoke with Foroyaa on issues
relating to Musa Ngum’s music career and his untimely dead.
‘’My name is Sohna Jobe, am the wife of Musa Afia Ngum. My  husband
left the Gambia on Friday 10 October 2015 to host a concert in Dakar
accompanied by his son Yusupha Ngum and other Gambian musicians. The news
of his dead came on Sunday in the morning at 7am, when I received a
telephone call from Fallou Ngum who told me that Musa was sick and
they took him to Dantec hospital in Dakar Plateau, and after a couple
of hours he (Fallou) called back around 9am to tell me “Mama, your
husband, your friend has just rest in peace (died).”
“Musa was not in a state of good health ever since as he was all the
time suffering from leg pain, he was a good friend to the family and
very supportive indeed, we really lost a great husband, father to my
children. We got married 40 years ago and are blessed with 9 children,
two girls and 7 boys. Musa afia Ngum visited Senegal in 1981 after the
Kukoi Samba Sanyang coup. That time music in the Gambia was not in good shape as Musa visited Senegal to continue his career and later
after two months in December 1981, I joined him in Senegal to give him
support in his music work. My good husband has gone forever but will
never be forgotten. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace and be
welcomed in jannat, ameen. My husband was the bread winner of the
family,’ said the widow, who was uncontrollably sobbing.
Mam Cheikh Ngum, the daughter of Musa Ngum, also spoke with Foroyaa
about his dad.
‘’My father told me on Friday to pack only two shirts and two trousers
for him, as he was leaving on the day to Senegal and he also gave me
D200 for me to share with my younger sister, Afia, in order to take
care of our needs during the weekend.  He also gave me his bottle of
water and asked me to be using it. My dad really loves us. He always
makes us happy together by trying to satisfy our needs and demands.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.”
Below is a Biography of Musa Ngum
Bala Jigii Musa was Born in 1953 in Fatoto,Kantora District in The
Gambia Upper River Region and history has it that he usually refused to
go to bed unless his caretaker plays a particular musical instrument
for him as a means of putting him to sleep. Growing up Musa was a
well-known “Kasak” singer who was sought after by families when they
circumcised their children and in ceremonies to honor their reunion.
In his youth, he became interested in “Kassak”, songs which are sung
during circumcision ceremonies and periods. He became well known in
“Kassak” circles because of his mastery of the songs and his melodious
voice and in the event built quite a name for him whilst developing
his vocal abilities.
Ambitiously pursuing his music career, Musa joined a group called
Sangamarr Band in the late 1960s. He became the group’s lead singer
and played together at Sangamarr with the likes of Sam Jarju, Cheks
Sosseh, Pa Alieu Njie, Mbye Jasseh, Pa Ngum and Manka Susso, who was
the group’s guitarist. The group specialised in playing famous
traditional songs with western instruments. After a while with
Sangamarr, Musa was asked by his bigger brother, Lie Ngum, who was
then a member of a group called Gelewarr to be their lead singer.

Musa played together in the Gelewarr Band with the late Oussou Lion
Njie, the late Njok Malick Njie, the late Adama Sallah, the late Lie
Sallah, the late Cock Jallow, the late Badou Ngum, the late Badou
Sallah, Lie Ngum (Abdel Kabir), Musa Njie and Koto Ngum. During his
Gelewarr days, Musa Ngum recorded songs such as “Tesito”, “Bala Jigi
Musa”, “Xaleli Ndakaru” and many more which gained cult status and
made him a legend in the Senegambia region. Gelewarr toured The
Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania and other West African countries.

Musa’s songs are mostly about the ancient Kingdoms of the Senegambia
region in both landscape and cultural unity. He is indeed a musical
hero. Musa left The Gambia in 1981 and moved to Senegal. He was
assiduously courted by Super Diamono, one of the then premier
Senegalese bands and he finally joined the group in 1985. He teamed up
with Omar Pene, Maiga, Lamin Faye (Lemso) – the legendary Senegalese
guitarist and they released “Borom Daaru” and “Partef” which became
Senegambian classics. One of the biggest hits during Musa Ngum’s stint
with Super Diamono is the combination song he did with Omar Pene which
is popularly known as “Omaro, Bamba sa mam la”.

When Super Diamono disbanded three years later, Musa joined the
short-lived group Ndaply and then went solo with his “Banjul Banjul”
release and has since released a total of six cassette decks (Cds). He
used only traditional Senegambian instruments. He was
awarded one of the highest honours in Senegal, Chevalier of the
National Order of The Lion, by the then Senegalese President Abdou
In a nutshell, Musa Ngum is a superstar, songwriter and producer who,
to a large extent, ushered in the era of artist controlled close
harmony in popular music.

Musa is very devoted and passionate about his singing. He was the hero
of Super Diamano Band of Senegal. He was one of the main attraction
and the crowd puller for the band.

Musa is not a materialist and does not have a mansion or a fancy car to
prove his point but he has soul and he is modest. The sick concept of
possession does not bother him or attract his attention, it has no place
in his spiritual world.

Blessed with an exceptionally wide range that encompassed three
distinct vocal styles, a piercing falsetto, a smooth mid-range tenor,
and a deep growl, Musa combined great technical prowess with rare
musical individuality.