Malian Ballake Sissoko’s Custom-Made Kora Destroyed By TSA

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Yorbing Staff Wednesday February 12, 2020

*Featured: HomeRecords.Be, April 23, 2019, Youtube, By Ben Yakas, “Renowned Malian Musician Say TSA “Completely Destroyed’ His Custom-Made Kora Instrument” Feb 6, 2020.

Gothamists presents the issue as Mr. Sissoko’s own deliberate act to gain money perhaps?…

Image:, Feb 6, 2020.

Renowned Mali musician Ballaké Sissoko claimed today that US Customs in New York “completely destroyed” his custom-made kora, the West African instrument with which he performs. “The kora is a fragile, hand-crafted instrument, and Ballaké’s kora is tailor-made to his own specifications,” a statement released on his Facebook page reads. “It is an intrinsic part of his very special sound. Would US customs have dared to dismantle a Stradivarius? In its own way that is what has just happened to Ballaké.”

According to the statement, Sissoko was flying to Paris from New York (he doesn’t specify which airport he flew out of, but it’s being reported that it was JFK) after completing a North American tour with his group 3MA on Tuesday. He had checked his kora inside a special hard case, and when he arrived, he was horrified at what he found inside the case. “He was shocked and dismayed to find his kora in many pieces, with only a note from US customs — in Spanish, with the unfortunate motto: ‘Intelligent security saves time.'”

The statement describes the damage to the instrument in detail: “The neck of the kora has been removed. The strings, bridge and entire, delicate and complex sound system of amplification have been taken apart. The kora is in pieces. Even if all the components that have been dissembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance.” What’s more, it is not the kind of instrument you can roll into a Guitar Center and buy off the shelf: “These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace. They are certainly not available in shops.”

The kora is a 21-string lute-bridge-harp. You can see a video of Sissoko performing with this specific kora last year below:

Check rest of the story here.

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