Iya Mory Sako (pronounced “eeya”) is Malinké, one of the many different tribes of Guinea. Malinké people use a rich variety of traditional instruments and rhythms to celebrate special occasions such as weddings and baby naming ceremonies and accompany everyday events such as farming the land. The rhythms of the Wassalon region are strongly influenced by its proximity to the Mali border. Iya is from Samakofadda, in the Wassalon region of Upper Guinea.
At around age nine, Iya started to play dundun for the farmers in the fields with Mamady Doumbouya, the village djembé fola at that time. After four years he was chosen to continue the tradition of djembé fola and in line with respectful tradition his year group approached his parents to ask permission for him to do so. He went on to become a renowned djembé fola across the Siguiri and Wassalon regions, and much in demand to solo for traditional Malinké fêtes. He subsequently worked with renowned Malinké “Walla Walla” (traditional male dancer/singer) Solo Traoré in Guinea and Mali, and taught his first international students in Mali in 1999.
In 2004 Iya arrived in the capital of Guinea, Conakry, and worked with Famoudou Konaté, supporting classes for international students and performed with Famoudou’s group Hamana Diada until he moved to the UK in 2007. Group Fankabah performed for international djembé fola Mamady Keïta and his students at his compound in Conakry in December 2006 and January 2007. Since moving to the UK Iya has become a very popular and respected teacher at drum camps and festivals such as Womad and World Music Workshop Festival in the UK and Djembe Drame Festival in Holland. Iya also invites students to study with him in Guinea.