Sahel

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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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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Nigel Williamson’s review of ‘Music, Culture & Conflict in Mali’ – SONGLINES, September 2013

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September 3, 2013
Nigel Williamson’s review of ‘Music, Culture & Conflict in Mali’ – SONGLINES, September 2013

It was a small consolation, but one of the few positives to come out of the occupation of the northern two-thirds of Mali by armed jihadist groups in 2012 was the informed analysis of Andy Morgan. At the height of the crisis, Morgan seemed ubiquitous in the western media – on radio, television and...
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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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Tisrawt: The epic tale of a theatre company from northern Mali

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May 16, 2013

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...
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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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SAHARA SOUL: Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest, Sidi Toure.

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February 4, 2013
SAHARA SOUL: Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest, Sidi Toure.

The conversation won’t be easy. But listen to the spirits there in the music and they’ll tell you a deeper tale. They’ll tell you that in that vast desert which outsiders are content to call a wasteland, good for nothing except for the oil, phosphates and uranium that lie under its soil, there exists...
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The sandstorm of war in northern Mali

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January 11, 2013
The sandstorm of war in northern Mali

The situation along the demarcation line that separates Islamist-held northern Mali from the south of the country is agonizingly confusing. The Malian army claim to have recaptured the strategic town of Douentza, while the Islamist claim the complete opposite. How can we look through the sandstorm that surrounds the current Islamist advance south...
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