‘I’m going to follow my mind’: Falle Nioke, the Guinean musician who moved to Margate

The singer spent hard years touring west Africa to pursue his dream of a music career, but a chance holiday meeting – and relocation to the Kent coast – sealed the deal

Ten years ago, Falle Nioke was sitting with only his bolon drum for company in a Gambian jail cell, some 3,000 miles from the Kent seaside town of Margate where he now lives and light years from his current world of domestic bliss and critical acclaim.

Raised in Conakry, Guinea, the 33-year-old singer and percussionist spent most of his 20s as part of a touring group of musicians that played across west Africa, a pursuit often hamstrung by arrests pertaining to immigration permits. Nioke survived by whatever means necessary to hold on to his musical passion. “I used to make soap and go to the market to sell it to pay the rent,” he says today. “If someone was selling rice, we would sing for them and we would get some fees and some food.” His indelibly positive worldview was forged during these years. “Everywhere I have been, there are people who will be happy to help,” he says.

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