Radio Africa

Linké Condé 1940-2021
- in memoriam


Linké Condé has passed away. He died in Conakry on 10 April 2021 after a long illness. Guinea, and the world, have lost a great treasure.


Linké Condé was the guitarist in Guinea's national orchestra, Kélétigui et ses Tambourinis. Guinea has many famous guitarists, but few outside of Guinea have recognised the talents and creativity of Condé's musical contribution to the valorisation of his nation's music.

Condé's musical awakening began when he was inspired by the great Kerfala "Grand Papa" Diabaté, an original member of Guinea's famed Syli Orchestre National. Having grown to over 30 musicians, the Syli Orchestre National was split into two new formations, Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée (led by Mamadi Kourouma, and later by Balla Onivogui and re-named as Balla et ses Balladins) and Orchestre de la Pailotte (led by "Grand Papa" Diabaté and then by Kélétigui Traoré and renamed as Kélétigui et ses Tambourinis). Condé began playing with Les Déménageurs Africains before moving to Le Climat de Guinée and then to Orchestre de la Pailotte. He was a founding member of Kélétigui et ses Tambourinis, and after the death of Kélétigui Traoré, Linké Condé became the chef d'orchestre.

Of all the Guinean musicians I have met, no-one had greater knowledge of Guinean music than Linké Condé. During my archival projects at Radio Télévision Guinée, I would often go to La Pailotte and sit with the musicians of Guinea's first republic and listen to the recordings I had archived. Sometimes, the original recordings had no name and no information, but Linké could identify it in a flash. His knowledge of Cuban music was equally as encyclopedic, and during an era when every other Guinean orchestra would feature two or three 6 string guitarists, Kélétigui et ses Tambourinis had just one: Linké Condé. His solos and rhythm styles weren't always mixed into the foreground to the extent of other bands of the era, for example, Bembeya Jazz. But a close listening to the Tambourinis sound in the 1960s reveals inventive and groovy ostinato patterns straight out of the best of the Mandé griots lute repertoire. Listen to Mariama from circa 1964 as an example, and listen to Kesso to hear Linké in full flight.

Sékou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté (left) and Linké Condé. 2012.
Image copyright Graeme Counsel 2021

Linké Condé's last years were very difficult. Though he lost his eyesight while in his 50s, it did not deter him from leading the Tambourinis. I saw many a rehearsal and performance of his orchestra at La Pailotte, marvelling at their rendition of Soundiata which featured Linké's guitar. In 2019, however, he suffered a stroke which left him paralysed and bed-ridden.

Linké was very generous with his time, always cheerful, and willing to share his knowledge and memories. I loved him.

My condolescences to his family and friends, and may he rest in peace.

A video of Linké Condé with Keletigui et ses Tambourinis is here. His solo commences at 5' 10".

Unfortunately the video needs repair, and we hope that the RTG are doing just that.

copyright 2021