Juldeh Camara was taught to play by his blind father, who himself was taught directly by the djinn. Playing the ritti, a one-stringed fiddle and West African ancestor of the violin, he participated as a griot (a West African poet, praise singer and repository of oral tradition) in traditional Fula society in the Gambia.
“The djinni took his eyes and gave him the violin, the gift to play on it and the gift to see what other people cannot see.” This is Juldeh’s story about how his father became a musician. Juldeh’s grandfather was a hunter, and he wanted his son Serif to become a great hunter as himself, but when Serif was 15 years old he disappeared in the forest. Everyone thought he was dead, killed by the hyenas. One year later his father still went every day to the forest to look for his son. Suddenly he could hear a sound from a tree. He came closer and he saw his son sitting in the tree playing a golden violin.
He understood that Serif was hypnotised by the djinni and after many hours he managed to drive the djinni away, but at the same time the violin was gone. Serif followed his father home, but every day he went back to the forest to learn more from the djinni. When the time came, and Serif had become a fully trained musician and Marabou, the djinni took his eyesight in return. Juldeh grew up in Sariyalla in Casamance, West Africa, with his blind jali-father as his teacher. When one listens carefully one can hear the sound of the djinni in Juldeh’s music.