Garba Touré and his guitar were a familiar sight on the streets of Diré, a dusty town on the banks on the Niger River, upstream from Timbuktu. But when armed jihadists took control of northern Mali in the spring of 2012, he knew it was time to leave.
In 2011 I was sent to New York to write a feature on Tinariwen for the Observer. It was one of the hottest summers in decades – wet hot, rather than dry hot. It was a time of extremes for everyone. Here are some photos I took. My feature ‘TINARIWEN – Guitar poets in Nueva York’ is posted on this site.
Last year, the Festival on the Niger had been cancelled at the last minute. French transport planes full of soldiers and hardware had landed in Bamako only two weeks before the festival was due to start. Now peace was back. So was music. The jihadists tried to ban all music except Quranic chanting in the north of Mali. But it just came back like Whack-a-mole. How could it not?
In February 2014, I was invited to The Festival on the Niger in Segou, Mali. This is a selection of some of the photos I took. I also wrote an article which is posted on this site. In a nutshell, those four days on the banks of the old Niger were a blessed chance to renew my love for Mali, with eyes and mind as open as I could make them to the full gamut of joy, pride, frustration and struggle that I saw. Many thanks to Mamou Daffé, Marisa Segala and whole team at the Festival for giving me this unforgettable gift.
In this pacey readable book, Andy Morgan tells the stories of two emblematic instruments, the kora and the Welsh harp, and how they fell into the hands of two great musicians, Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch.