Salia Koroma In 2013: The 110th Anniversary
2013 marks the 110th anniversary of Salia’s birth in Segbwema (Seigbema), and it is a testament to the strength and depth of his artistic output that we are even discussing him here on this platform, at this time, some seventeen years since his passing. In a hundred and ten years since his birth, one hundred and one years since he first got the bellows of an accordion going, Salia Koroma’s music has survived and continues to reach new audiences by means of all the various technological innovations of the past one hundred years and more.
When Salia was born in 1903, our Sierra Leone was divided into the Colony of Sierra Leone and the British Protectorate of Sierra Leone, administered separately. The protectorate in 1903 was divided into Karene, Koinadugu, Ronietta, Bandajuma, and Panguma Districts. District lines will continue to be drawn and redrawn up to some years before Independence. So he was born in Panguma District, lived under 19 colonial governors, 4 governors-general, three prime ministers, two presidents…
Through all that, through the curtailment of the powers of his chiefly patrons in the protectorate, through the upheavals, through changing tastes and appetites, Salia Koroma’s music has proven resilient.
And yours truly’s role in this resilience, while noteworthy, is a bit part. Salia’s music survives (and thrives, I believe) solely on its own merit.