Africa

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…

What does Morocco want from Mali?

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 this…

The Ouagadougou Accords – Peace in our time?

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 in our time?

NEW BOOK – 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 the music and culture of the country. There are chapters on music under occupation in the north, the music scene in Bamako, the destruction of mausoleums in the north, the fate of Mali’s precious manuscripts, Mali’s film and theatre industries and the response to the crisis from writers, poets, journalists, intellectuals and film-makers.

MUSIC, CULTURE & CONFLICT IN MALI (extract) – Tisrawt: The epic tale of a theatre company from northern Mali

BOOK EXTRACT: “Tisrawt is a microcosm of Touareg society,” Melissa explains. “That’s to say, it is a group of people who come from many different clans. Some are pro-MNLA. Some are pro Ansar ud-Dine. Some are pro-Mali. Others say that it’s all nonsense. And the aim is to understand each other, to live together and work together on a common project.”