With the world’s media riveted to events in Washington, the West African nation of Mali might be forgiven for feeling a little abandoned in one of its darkest hours since independence. Last Tuesday January 17th at 9am a young jihadist by the name of Abdel Hadi al Foulani drove a pickup truck into a military…
My 2014 photoshoot of Songhoy Blues in the Laffiabougou district of the Malian capital, Bamako, which yielding the cover shot of their hit debut ‘Music in Exile’.
What’s more extraordinary however is Bombino’s fame at home. He’s become a bona fide head-turning airtime-hogging star in his own country, not just amongst the Touareg, who mainly live in Niger’s northern deserts, but amongst the youth of the entire nation. That’s something that no other Touareg artists has ever managed to do, not even Tinariwen.
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.