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Kombonka: From “Backway” Returnee to Successful Musician

By Arret Jatta

Ebrima Touray popularly known by his stage name Kombonka is a Gambian artist (rapper) who took on a successful musical career after his failed “backway” attempt to reach Europe via the illegal and deadly Sahara Dessert.

After recording his first song in 2011, he performed at various platforms and events both locally and internationally. However, his life took a turn for the worse in 2016, during the backway “Pandemic” when hordes of hopeless Gambian youth braved the dreadful journey to Libya. Many who risked their lives to get to Europe drowned, that’s if they successfully made it past the Sahara Dessert, Libyan and other rogue forces who jail, exploit, maim and even kill migrants.

Kombonka fell into the net of these rogue forces in Libya where he was locked up for 7 months. Upon his release in 2017, he joined the Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which facilitated his return home to The Gambia.

Speaking to Manding rapper he recalled the difficulties he faced after his unsuccessful “backway” journey. “It was not easy at all. The feeling of having wasted so much time, money and resources coupled with the trauma and stress is something am still trying to recover from. But I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe this was destined to happen in my life so I have accepted it in good faith and moving on”.

Kombonka is not only moving on but onwards and upwards. In an exclusive interview with the Manding Rapper, he explained that “I started writing songs back in 2011 when I lived in Sukuta at that time and I was also learning to be an electrician, But it wasn’t till I recorded my first single that I felt like I had a shot but I was still not ready to come out big”.

He also revealed that pursuing his music career was not so easy as his family members were not in support of his decision to be an artist. “Unfortunately, my Mum passed away when I was very small so I don’t know what her reaction would have been but my father didn’t like it, In fact, my whole family didn’t like it”, he said.

Describing his first song released in 2011 Kombonka says “it was titled ‘Bee Mol’ meaning “People of today. It was as always, a conscious song about social living and issues at the time but the recording quality was not so good so I didn’t release it. However, I gave it to a DJ Senator who played it on GRTS and it received good reviews”.

In 2019 Kombonka began to take his musical talents seriously. He was quickly signed by a newly established record label called GSC Records pioneered by International Gambian Music producer and audio engineer Malang Fatty based in the United Kingdom.

It was at this stage that he came out with a hit single “Buwal Lem”, a Trap Jambadong song written around some of the things happening in the Gambian society. The collaboration with GSC Records inspired his hit single and propelled his career into the spotlight.

On January 8th 2022, Kombonka staged a successful debut album launch, featuring over 15,000 fans packed into QCity. The album titled “Yalong Ngalong” contains 14 tracks featuring some of Gambia’s most renowned artists like Hussain Dada.

Kombonka is set to continue his career with another album launch set for Saturday 11th March 2023. Our next article will reveal more details on this.

Malang Fatty of GSC Records
Malang Fatty of GSC Records

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