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MALI RAP – Talking rhymes with Presidents and Putschistas

Sidiki Diabate and Iba One at the Diabaté house in 'Ntomikorobougou

  “Don’t be surprised if it explodes one day!” When I met Mylmo I knew nothing about him except that he was rapper who was performing on the main stage of the Festival on the Niger that very night. I interviewed him in an empty restaurant on the banks of the great river – most…

JUPITER – Kinshasa’s rebel general stands tall

In the early years of that epic conflict known as the cold war, an Irishman wrote a funny-sad piece of theatre, a kind of excruciating fairy tale about a pair of old tramps who sat around waiting for this guy called Godot. Except that Godot wasn’t a person of course; he was an idea, a…

SEYDOU CISSÉ of GANDA IZO – “We should have followed the MNLA from the start”

Here’s an amazing news story: http://maliactu.net/mediation-dans-la-crise-malienne-nous-preferons-ouaga-a-alger-dixit-moussa-ag-attaher/ On February 9th last, the MNLA and the Ganda Izo held a joint press conference in Ouagadougou and issued a joint statement announcing a future collaboration between the two movements. The two groups also expressed strong support for Burkina Faso’s mediation in northern Mali and denounced any attempts by…

Does the Touareg question have an answer?

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 North…

FINDING THE ONE (extract) – How the kora came to mankind

No one is one hundred precent sure of how or when the kora came into being. Strangely, the first person to ever mention it was a Scotsman by the name of Mungo Park, who wrote about it in his Travels In the Interior Districts of Africa, published in 1799.  Park was commissioned by Sir Joseph…