The singer Samba Diabaré Samb died Saturday, September 21, at the age of 95 years. “Senegal has lost one of its illustrious sons, El Hadji Samba Diabaré Samb. Raised to the dignity of a living human Treasure by Unesco (…), it was the symbol of dignity and social bonds,” said the head of State of senegal, Macky Sall.

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Nicknamed “baayu ndaanaan yi” (“the father of the artists”, in wolof language), he had been declared a “living human Treasure” by Unesco in 2006, to his art, at the same time that fellow-countrymen, Joseph Ndiaye (1922-2009), curator of the Slave House of Gorée island (near Dakar) and the master-drum Doudou Ndiaye Rose, who passed away in 2015.

The master of the xalam

Born in 1924 in a family of ‘griots’ (bards), Samba Diabaré Samb had co-hosted, on the eve of the independence of 1960, a hit show on the history and the cultural heritage of Senegal, highlights the site SenePlus. In 1962, he is at the origin, with his accomplice Amadou Ndiaye Samb, of the creation of the Whole opera, traditional Theatre Sorano in Dakar, says the news Agency, a senegalese official.

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The artist was mostly known for being a virtuoso of the xalam, a lute, three, four or five strings to virtues regarded as magical. The Senegalese said often that”it is an instrument that recreates the past. It has the power to galvanize the contemporary reviving the beauties of our continent. It takes talent, but also to be the possessor of a gift to control the xalam. It is an instrument of a daunting complexity,” according to remarks reported by several media outlets in senegal.

It was also a “griot, a genealogist, a chronicler of society, a historian and a poet. A man who has contributed much to the development and the popularization of the music, lyrical and classic in senegal”, concludes SenePlus.