Senegalese Monks find other ways to pursue God


God is the most supreme being; every natural human being needs or depends on God. For many years, several communities on the African continent take religion seriously and seek God in several ways. The most common way of seeking God is by calling upon him in earnest prayer. The Senegalese monks prefer seeking the Most High through kora music. The kora has taken the organ at the Keur Moussa abbey near Senegal’s capital (Dakar). The instrument is used to accompany all the Benedictine monks’ religious services there. Monks in blue-grey robes raise their hands in supplication before bursting into a song accompanied by the kora’s singsong play.

Brief Description of Abbaye de Keur Moussa

The Benedictine abbey of the Solesmes Congregation, Abbaye de Keur Moussa or Keur Moussa, is near Dakar, the capital city of Senegal in W. Africa. The French monks established the monastery in 1961 and became an abbey in 1984. In 2000, the monastery had over 20 monks under Abbot Fr Philippe Champetier de Ribes Christofle’s supervision. Sacred Spirit Music’s accounts of the monks playing the kora harp and chanting have reached a Western audience. African rhythms and instrumentation are mixed with a western religious chant in their music.

What is the kora?

In the Western region of Africa, the kora is a string instrument that people widely use. A kora is made up of 21 strings that are pluckable with the fingers. It has elements of the lute and the harp.

What does Pere Olivier-Marie Sarr say about the Instrument?

Pere Olivier-Marie Sarr is an Abbot in the abbey of Keur Moussa. Pere says, “This is an instrument that allows the word of God to prosper, it’s not an instrument that overwhelms, it’s an instrument that aids in prayer. This is why we have slowly adopted it, abandoning other instruments. Since then, when we discuss Keur Moussa Abbey, we think of the kora, which accompanies us from 5 am-9 pm.”

Father Olivier further says:

“The kora is like a bridge, if I may say so. It aids us to go above something, to elevate the soul. It aids to unite hearts and voices; it allows us to create harmony between us and a harmony with God as well.”

About the Instruments in Today’s Keur Moussa

Besides the kora instrument, other Keur Moussa’s instruments have become a point of reference for traveling artists and important members of griot families.

Demographical Proportions of Monks

Senegalese monks make up the majority of the around 35 monks at Keur Moussa. They are members of a small Christian minority in a country where Muslims account for almost 95% of the population. There are also friars from Guinea, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, and others from French-speaking Africa.

Indeed, the African culture is great. From this article, we learn more about African religion and its connection to music. Here, we appreciate the Senegalese monks going beyond their limits to seek God through kora music.



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