Algeria

Does the Touareg question have an answer?

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January 20, 2014
Touareg boy watching Camel Race, Tin Essako, Jan 2001

A few years ago, on a beautifully calm Saharan evening, I was drinking tea with an old Touareg musician in a garden near Tessalit in the far north east of Mali, a place that has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The musician’s work was gaining popularity throughout Europe and...
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WOMEX 2013 AWARD SPEECH: What the Festival in the Desert did for one dumbfounded tourist…

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November 16, 2013

Ladies, gentlemen and fellow Womexicans… On the third of January this year, Ansar Eddine, one of the three armed Salafist groups who ruled over the northern two-thirds of Mali and imposed a brutal form of shari’a law on its people, issued what they called their ‘political platform’. In many ways it’s an extraordinary document,...
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What does Morocco want from Mali?

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September 24, 2013

The big story to emerge from the inauguration of Mali’s new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which took place in Bamako’s 26 Mars stadium on September 19th, was the arrival of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, for the celebrations with a delegation of 300 dignitaries in tow. So stark and brash was the nature of...
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The Ouagadougou Accords: Peace in our time?

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June 20, 2013

An accord between the government of Mali and groups representing the Touareg-led rebellion in the north, primarily the MNLA and HCUA, was signed two days ago in Ougadougou at end of several weeks of intense negotiation. Le Monde has a concise and fairly comprehensive report on this possibly historic event. So is this peace...
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NEW BOOK: MUSIC, CULTURE & CONFLICT IN MALI

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May 16, 2013
<i> NEW BOOK: </i> MUSIC, CULTURE & CONFLICT IN MALI

My new book MUSIC, CULTURE & CONFLICT IN MALI takes an in-depth look at the crisis that overtook Mali in January 2012 and lead to a ten-month occupation of the northern two-thirds of the country by armed jihadi groups. The book examines the roots of those tumultuous events and their ef- fect on...
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“We have come here to teach you the true faith”

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May 16, 2013

BOOK EXTRACT: In important ways, the scenes of vandalism and destruction that were played out in Timbuktu following the Salafist takeover in April 2012 weren’t new at all. There was something very old about them. Mostly white Arabic or Hassaniya speaking men from the northern deserts were ‘teaching’ the blacks how to worship...
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Music in the red zone

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May 16, 2013

BOOK EXTRACT: Life in the early 1990s was convivial. There was music. Women felt free to come and go. Some people smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol. The bonds between those young Touareg, their music and their culture seemed strong and unbreakable. No one quite knows why some senior Touareg figures from the northeast,...
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“We don’t want Satan’s music!”

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May 16, 2013

BOOK EXTRACT: In Gao, a group of teenagers sat around a ghetto blaster listening to Bob Marley. A Landcruiser pick-up loaded with tooled-up Islamic police came by and seeing the reggae fans, stopped and accosted them. “This music is haram!” – forbidden by Islamic law – said one of the MUJAO men as...
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What next for Mali?

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February 4, 2013
What next for Mali?

Like a massive dose of chemotherapy administered to a patient with advancing cancer, France’s intervention in Mali will serve to halt and stabilise the situation. But negative side effects are inevitable, and a complete cure seems as far away as ever.
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Northern Mali – Options, what options??!!

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February 1, 2013
Northern Mali –  Options, what options??!!

The Rubik's cube-like complexity of Mali's problems, especially in the north, presents one of the greatest conflict resolution challenges in recent African history. Success relies on solving a short list of pressing problems, each of which look like a challenge fit for gods not men.
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