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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.
It was only after he’d started living in Europe and having kids of his own, that Seckou Keita started to wonder about his father. “I was in that mood,” he says, “I just wanted to find out.”
The news of Aberfan shocked him into a new awareness. What was the fire that had destroyed his workshop compared to the river of slurry and filfth that snuffed out the lives of 116 children? Not forgetting the 28 adults. Nothing. “People can loose more than I’ve lost,” he thought. Granted, his livelihood had been…
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…
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.
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.”
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 Allah in the ‘proper’ manner.
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, including Iyad Ag Ghali, began to succumb to the message of Pakistani preachers belonging to Tablighi Jama’at.
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 he yanked the cassette out of the blaster and crushed it under his feet.