Full length journalistic features

JUPITER & OKWESS INTERNATIONAL – “We’re sleeping on a mattress stuffed with dollars!”

March 12, 2014
Jupiter and Okwess International at Carlisle Railway Station, September 2012. Photo by Andy Morgan

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,...
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SIDI TOURE – Easy to listen to and easy to love…

March 11, 2014
SIDI TOURE – Easy to listen to and easy to love…

When he was a child, Sidi Toure was told to go and hunt for bats in the Tomb of the Askia. On a good day, he and his harum scarum comrades could bring back ten or more, which made a tidy feast for the family. The monument wasn’t far from his home in the...
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Northern Mali – A failure of Western policy in the Sahel

September 20, 2012
Fighters Northern Mali

The black salafist flag that flutters in the hot desert breeze over Timbuktu symbolises the abject failure of western policy in the Sahel over the past decade or more. Many millions of dollars and euros that have been spent by the US, France and the EU to train the armies of Mali, Niger and...
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Algeria plays a master’s game in northern Mali

July 19, 2012

A few days ago, the pro-Azawad website Toumast Press reported that Algerian army personnel were in Gao training fighters belonging to Ansar ud-Dine and MUJAO,  the Islamist militia who recently drove the Touareg separatist  MNLA from the city.  They also reported that the Algerians have been sending heavy weaponry to the city under the...
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Have we seen the last of One Eyed Jack?

June 28, 2012

I’m hearing a steady stream of reports that Mokhtar Belmokthar, ala Laouaar (‘The One Eyed’), one of the supreme leaders of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has been killed in Gao, during bitter street fighting between the National Movement of the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) and the AQIM offshoots the Movement for...
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AZAWAD UPRISING – An interview with an MNLA fighter on the battlefield in northern Mali

March 28, 2012
Tuareg uprising 2012 2

A few days ago, on Friday March 23rd, I managed to reach an MNLA fighter called Intarhia on his satellite phone. When I called, he was in a 4x4 that was being driven across open desert, seemingly at top speed going by the incessant roar that formed a trying backdrop to our conversation....
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DANYEL WARO – Say it loud, mongrel and proud!

January 13, 2012
Danyel Waro; La Renuion; Maloya

Like the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Eminem, Danyel Waro has taken a style of music that wasn’t his by birthright and fashioned it into something new. But Waro’s whole point is that, thanks to the island’s unique blurring of racial and cultural dividing line, this music is in fact his own. It is...
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AFROCUBISM: An old transatlantic love story

March 31, 2011
AfroCubism: Eliades Ochoa and Bassekou Kouyate

When the record producer Nick Gold traveled to Cuba in the early 1990s and fell in love with a cassette by the late great Ñico Saquito, the Afro Cuban story was already old, very old. Gold, who was already infatuated with Malian music, had the genius to perceive and appreciate the well-spring of...
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March 28, 2011
Hamada ben Amor aka 'El Général du Bled'

It took a rapper to light a firecracker and lob it at Tunisia’s youth, whose frustration had been distilled into liquid hydrogen by years of government corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and general state imposed joylessness.
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GADDAFI AND THE TOUAREG: Love, hate and petro-dollars

March 16, 2011

Gaddafi has been buying the affections and fighting skills of the nomadic tribes of the Sahara for a long time. His vision of a borderless Islamic republic of the Sahara, struck a chord with the Touareg who have been fighting their own rebellion against the governments of Mali and Niger since independence back in...
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