Category Archives: Events

A message from our friends at World Circuit Records: Inna Baba Coulibaly with ALI FARKA TOURÉ – “Sahel”

World Circuit Records announce a special Record Store Day release

Have a listen ahead of time with this exclusive Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/world-circuit-records/sets/inna-baba-coulibaly-with-ali-farka-toure-sahel/s-EuolL

Hello there! It’s been a while!

We’ve just been sent a special message from our friends over at World Circuit Records and we thought there’d be quite a few of you who would be interested in hearing what they’ve been up to. Rare Malian music alert! That got your attention. Now read on….

You may know World Circuit thanks to their legendary status after being the record label that brought us delights such as Oumou Sangare, Bueno Vista Social Club and – of course – Ali Farka Toure and his grammy award winning album with Ry Cooder Talking Timbuktu. To celebrate Record Store Day (22nd April 2017) World Circuit are  releasing a 10 inch vinyl EP of classic tracks by Inna Baba Coulibaly, the legendary Fula singer. The songs were recorded over forty years ago at the studios of Radio Mali in Bamako and feature that great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure. They’ve seldom been heard outside Mali…until now!

The story of Inna Baba Couilbaly

“Music is my passion…It’s my destiny…Young musicians must respect our music, and not destroy our tradition”

The rest of their press release reads as follows:

“Inna Baba Coulibaly was born near the town of Dilly, close to the border between Mali and Mauritania. The region is known for its herds of long-horned zebu cattle and its numerous holy sites dedicated to Sufi saints who are venerated for their piety, wisdom and tolerance.

Born into the noble Coulibaly clan, Inna Baba claims she inherited her love of singing from her mother, Anna Coulibaly. But the Fula consider singing to be unseemly for a woman of noble birth, and Anna Coulibaly was the target of much criticism, even magical spells. She did everything she could to persuade her daughter not to sing, reminding her of the old belief that young girls who sang were destined to live short lives. But she couldn’t stop Inna Baba, who delighted in stealing off with her friends after sunset to sing under the light of the desert moon.

After Inna Baba was married at the age of 14, her husband’s family managed to silence her for a while. But a saviour arrived in the unlikely figure of the commandant of Dilly, who arrived in her village one day looking for singers and musicians to appear at some prestigious Independence Day celebration. He demanded to hear the local talent and threatened dire consequences if no one came forward. Finally the village relented and four of their best musicians were chosen, including Inna Baba, who won first prize at the festival. After relocating to the capital Bamako in the late 1960s with her husband, she began to perform regularly, winning further accolades in the country’s famous Biennale competitions with her traditional Fula, Bamana and Soninke songs.”

Enter: Ali Farka Toure 

“This EP is the result of those recordings – a priceless snapshot of three Malian legends in their prime”

“Inna Baba was a regular visitor to the Bamako home of Amadou Djeli Ba, a fellow native of Dilly and master of the ngoni or traditional lute. It was there that she met Ali Farka Toure who was already famous thanks to his regular broadcasts on Radio Mali. It took her some time to overcome her shyness and come out from behind the door where she would hide, singing the songs softly to herself while the two great musicians played together. After a while, Ali Farka Toure suggested they all go to the Radio Mali studio and record a few songs. This EP is the result of those recordings – a priceless snapshot of three Malian legends in their prime.

Following these recordings, Inna Baba Coulibaly travelled back to Dilly to perform in front of President Moussa Traore and a delegation of high-ranking officials. The visit was part of a national tour that the Malian dictator undertook to try and bind his vast and disparate nation more closely together. At every stop on the way, the best local musicians and singers were chosen to represent their town and their region. Inna Baba was the choice of Sidi Modibo Kané, the revered marabout or holy man of Dilly. After an unforgettable performance her fame, already ample following the success of her Radio Mali recordings, continued to grow.

In the years that followed, Inna Baba joined the Franco-Malian group Manden Foly and toured throughout Mali, France, and the rest of the world, appearing on Malian and French national TV on numerous occasions. Despite her fame and the constant invitations to appear at weddings, celebrations, festivals and concerts, she tries to spend as much at as possible back home in Dilly, to keep the flame of her ancestral Fula culture and her love of her Sahelian home, burning bright.

“Music is my passion,” she says, in a wonderful video made by the Mali-based NGO Instruments4Africa, “It’s my destiny…Young musicians must respect our music, and not destroy our tradition.”

Four very special songs 

The four songs on the EP paint a vivid picture of life on the sahel or ‘shore’ of the great Sahara desert.  ‘Sahal’ is a love song to the young men who venture out into the wilderness with their great herds of cattle; it expresses the joy and celebration sparked by their return, the gossip and excitement too as those young men look for a young bride among the prettiest girls in the village.  “He who doesn’t have cows – I don’t extol him, or speak to him,” warns the song.

In‘Ndalen Koten’ (‘Let’s Go’), Ali Farka Toure salutes various people in his life, people he esteems and feels gratitude towards, such as Bela Boré, who first introduced Ali Farka to Malian national radio.

‘Allah Holam’ (‘May God Show Me’) is a paean to Sidi Modibo Kané, the great marabout of Dilly. Inna Baba calls on the great religious heroes of the Fula people – Sékou Oumarou and Sékou Amadou – to implore God to show her Sidi Modibo, so that he may bless her. The song is a passionate illustration of the importance of those Sufi saints in the lives of ordinary Malians.

Finally, ’Zaglia’ (‘Pilgrimage’) is a celebration of pilgrimage, one of the duties or pillars of Islam. The song depicts the bustling devotion of the day when pilgrims leave for Dilly to venerate the saint, with its celebrations, its readings of the koran, its feasting and goat racing. “When God has chosen you, be proud of it,” goes the song, “Pilgrimage above all else.”

 For more information please contact: press@worldcircuit.co.uk

Have a listen ahead of time with this exclusive Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/world-circuit-records/sets/inna-baba-coulibaly-with-ali-farka-toure-sahel/s-EuolL

Photo Credit: World Circuit Records

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Prudential Ride London 100 – donate for Mali!

As many of you will be aware, particularly those in the charity sector or living in South-West London, or both, this weekend bicycles will take over the capital city in a festival of all things two-wheeled ; the largest of its kind in the world.

The weekend’s centre-piece is the 100 mile mass-participation bike ride around the Surrey hills – similar to the route of the London Olympic road race. Amongst the 26,000 riders who have signed up in an over-subscribed ballot are Liz and Al Sim, who have kindly and bravely taken on the challenge to ride the whole route -Box and Leith Hill included – for the Mali Development Group (MDG).

Now, there a plenty of causes out there, but please spare a thought and perhaps a few pounds for Liz and Al  who are much more at home on the tennis court on in a sailing boat than in the saddle  of a bicycle. They could certainly do with your support!

Click the link and follow the instructions to make a donation: http://maligiving.com/sims We are very grateful for your support.

MDG supports Malian partner organisations Jeunesse et Developpement and Pensions a Demain. Between them their work support community development, healthcare accessibility, and the employment and artistic skills of street children, as well as many long-term impact livelihood projects like irrigation dams and mills.

For more information about the kind of thing your kind donations will support please visit the MDG website: http://malidg.org.uk

Thank you, and good luck Liz and Al! May the wind be forever on your tail.

Songhoy Blues – Nick : Mali Song of the Week

This week’s Song of the Week is a tale of two Nicks, inspired by the Songhoy Blues song. The band used the music video to showcase their fun and frolics from Glastonbury Festival last year. Getting a fantastic billing on the Pyramid Stage produced probably their most significant performance to date. The video – directed excellently by Connor Gilhooly with stunning videography – summarises a perfect Glastonbury experience. The long slog down some forgotten A-road, the sun, the drizzle, the standing-around-in-a-patch-of-muddy-gravelly-stuff. Charmingly, it encapsulates the bands personality entirely too. The unchanging fun, the sense of awe, the adventure; as if the world is the entertainer, not the other way around.

The video, somewhat ingeniously, captures one of the most important constants in the imagery of desert blues – travel. Or rather, to put it less romantically, transit. The latter preferred here as it alludes to that often cited monotonous, mesmerising, sometimes soporific, feature of getting from one place to the other as well as some of the more torpid examples of Malian blues. The song title here refers to Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner – the man behind the zest of Songhoy Blues’ break-through track ‘Soubour‘. Now many readers out there will know of another Nick, one whose legend puts him a close second behind Saint Nicolas in the list of ‘All Time Greatest Nicks’. For the last three decades or so primarily through his work with the World Circuit record label Nick Gold has been at the forefront of world music production, specialising in Cuban and West African music. Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabaté, Buena Vista Social Club, Oumou Sangaré all arrived in our eardrums in such exquisite form courtesy of Gold. Indeed you are still far more likely to hear a Malian song about him than any other Nick, with Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabaté having already made notable tributes.

That is not to say that this new Nick on the block is less worthy of praise, only newer, and different. After all, Songhoy Blues did write a song about him. As a musician first and foremost he can go toe-to-toe with Songhoy Blues and understand different things. Though relatively new to Mali music scene, Zinner is well travelled and has played with a whole host of different musicians. In an insightful interview Zinner comes across as characteristically relaxed. Like the band, he seems impregnable; unfazed by the hype that surrounds Africa Express and Songhoy Blues, explaining things as how they are and in so doing makes them so much more real. So much more astonishing.

Getting ever better, Songhoy Blues stand on the cusp of another career defining performance. Without Glastonbury’s ‘passing trade’ they have taken on full responsibility of filling the 2000-capacity Roundhouse in north London this Saturday (21st). They however do have some help from some friends in the form of the incredible Fatoumata Diawara, Blick Bassy, United Vibrations and a DJ set from Dave Okumu (The Invisible). Tickets are still on sale, allegedly, so before you act on the presumption that the only way into this gig would be smuggled within a calabash, perhaps check here first: http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2016/songhoy-blues/. See you there.

 

Songhoy Blues – Nick

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Rokia Traoré – Tu Voles : Mali Song of the Week

“Tu Voles”/”You fly” sings Rokia in this glorious opener to her 2016 album Né So. Where the album title itself means ‘home‘ this week’s Song means the opposite. “Home” is intended as “an invitation to think about the idea of ‘home'” and the privilege that comes with having one, whereas “Tu Voles” is about striving and escapism.

You fly, from every hurt, you release yourself, and you swim through the air, you fly…

Delving deeper; are the songs in fact on a similar theme? In both Traore encourages us to consider the plight of those that have no home and sings to us and imposes a character on us of a person so ill at ease, frightened, intimidated, troubled they resort to metaphor; they achieve that universal, impossible dream of humankind through force of will alone. This in a way is Traore’s trademark – using the beauty and vulnerability of “her raspy, quavering voice” to encourage empathy. Mark Hudson of The Telegraph notes that this must be a reflection of “the gravity” of her recent experience – and that of her homeland – noting that the album “is subdued, moody, even dark at times.” He continues;

“Since her last album, 2013’s buoyant and optimistic Beautiful Africa, she’s seen her homeland torn apart by a brutal civil war, including the recent Islamist atrocity in the capital Bamako, and has been beset by a more general sense of “things falling apart”.”

In her own way, Traoré has taken flight herself, with her artistry safely stowed in the overhead compartment. She like so many of Mali’s musicians has become a self-appointed ambassador for her country constantly flying worldwide to tell the rest of us what Mali is all about. To encourage the celebration of its beauty and understanding of its struggles. After taking up a very prestigious place on the Cannes Film Festival Main Jury last year, Traoré will be taking to the greatest stage of all this summer after being confirmed in the Glastonbury line-up – the festival continuing its marvellous support of Mali’s musicians. Malian’s have also been confirmed at a range of other festivals for example, Songhoy Blues have just completed a Tour in Australia and New Zealand, taking in those respective countries’s WOMAD festival. Back in the UK, WOMAD has yet to grace the shores of this soggy island in 2016, the festival scheduled for 28th-31st July. There French fiddle will meet Malian kora, percussion and vocals in the form of the exciting collaborative new-comers N’Diale.

So with the importance of her message evident here’s to hoping that Rokia is rewarded with one of the weekend’s precious “sunset slots” where the magic of the festival is unveiled in its entirety; liquid gold streaming around the summit of Glastonbury Tor, streaming down its sides, an image that defines the majesty of the place. Tens of thousands in a sun-soak crowd, basking in the immediacy of that fading moment before the giver of all life creeps away to brighten up a new day elsewhere on Earth.

Well, it’s that or it’ll be lashing it down with rain.

 

 

Rokia Traoré – Tu Voles

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Passa Quatro

This song comes from the very long awaited second album from cello-kora duo Sissoko and Segal; Musique de Nuit. It does not disappoint as it more than matches the precision and delicacy of their first album Chamber MusicIf you’re in Bristol and are pondering what to do tonight then you could to worse that pop along to St Georges Church Concert Hall to see these two sensational musicians live. A suitably elegant venue for each achingly beautiful chord.

I will save my words for another time – a comprehensive review, forensic in detail, of the whole album has already been published on the Six Degrees Records website and is certainly worth a read. It is fascinating to read of the influences and elements captured in Musique de Nuit and it is pleasing to see Sissoko and Segal avoid the ‘2nd album syndrome’ trap by choosing not to make a futile attempt to recapture the magic of the 1st. Its clear that they are moving things forward.

Whilst you listen, I would recommend watching the gentle, simple video to this song. Take the time out of your day to enjoy the float down stream.

Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Passa Quatro

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

Glastonbury Special: Mali Song of the Week

Songhoy Blues – Mali

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Songhoy Blues at the end of their superb Sunday set. Photo credit: Songhoy Blues via Facebook

Glastonbury has come and gone; roaring past in a blink of a weekend and barely a wink of sleep. Apparently a wink is all it would take as Michael Eavis declared that the whole Festival ‘could go‘ forever, in an unlikely polarisation of popularity where the festival suddenly goes out of fashion. However, reassuringly, as the sun rose steadily and inevitably over the legendary, plastic-strewn fields of Worthy Farm, Eavis – now 79 and proudly sporting a gold cup for his herd of cows – stated that this year’s festival was the ‘best yet’ and wouldn’t be going anywhere, at least for a while.

Another super year for Glasto and another year where artists from Mali got serious billing – a huge sign of respect and solidarity that has occurred every year since music was banned in the country in 2012. After packing the stages with a impressive range of Malian guitarists, singer-songwriters, rockers, desert blues-ers and DJs in 2013, and repeating the effort with Toumani & Sidiki Diabate and Tinariwen a year later, it was now the turn of Songhoy Blues to fly the Green, Gold and Red in 2015. Instead of serenading ‘those sore Sunday lunchtime heads‘, as Andy Morgan assured Bassekou Kouyate would do two years previously, Songblues sand-blasted the sleep from the amassing crowd’s eyes with a set that stared down the rain and got the wellies thumping. In Pyramid stage tradition, lead guitarist Garba Toure gave the performance of his life with a mesmerising display equal to any of the greats that have graced the mighty platform previously.

Shortly after the set, I was lucky enough to catch up with lead singer a Aliou Touré and band manager Marc Antoine Moreau, who had both  kindly agreed to enter the fray to meet me. The first thing I noticed upon seeing him standing amongst throngs of festival-goers was that, unbelievably, Aliou’s suede shoes had not a speck of famous Glastonbury mud on them. “We found the right path!” they laugh, proudly. And proud they should be, as their successes in this country in particular seem to show no bounds. “The English people like their culture” Aliou suggests pointing to Britain’s great traditions in blues and rock music for an explanation for the bands popularity.

But there must be something more than this, surely? Something unique to explain the band’s exceptional rise? I start my enquiries with a discussion about the title of their new album Music in Exile. Marc explains: “It’s called Music in Exile because it’s their story, they fled from the north to the south, to Bamako, and now they go around the world to tell it.” Songhoy Blues are important ambassadors for educating the world in Mali’s horrible recent history. An important illustration of this appeared later when the band performed live for the BBC. Presenter and Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe would refer to the band’s story and rhetorically ask “who could you imagine suppressing the joy in that?” Its the quintessential reaction given by people all over the world; its empathy, comprehension in incomprehension. Whilst standing in these fields upon fields of music and artistic wonder their story challenges us to imagine it all ablaze, crushed, swept aside in a flurry of fire and flying metal.

But there is joy. Songhoy Blues are the youthful, defiant,  energetic and often hilarious alternative. They fit into the spirit of Glastonbury well. We discuss the album in more detail, particularly their song ‘Irganda‘ which means ‘our environment‘. Previously, I naively took to mean the very urgent, western phenomenons that involve things like reducing fuel consumption and reusing plastic bags. Aliou responds that Songhoy Blues’ sound is a mix between the traditional and modern and the song is actually ‘the environment’ in a more national sense. He is more than eager to provide his own view on green issues. He conveys that in Mali “it’s very different” for example “recycling, is very difficult, it’s not being used in Mali”. It is being eclipsed by the problems identified in the song: the lack of water, desertification, a problem which Aliou explains is exacerbated  by poverty. Malians have no option but to burn firewood – 6 million tonnes a year I discovered – to cook their food. “Every day they cut down trees. There are already not enough trees”. This rapidly increases the speed in which the Sahara advances. Aliou also mentions the issue of global warming and the particular vulnerability of Timbuktu – his hometown. Its near the river, yes, but also wrapped up by the ever-expanding desert. Its a very fragile eco-system in a very fragile political state.

We chat a little more, about Aliou’s favourite song on the album (its Al Hassidi Teri, by the way), about how it is to be away from Mali for so long (he explains, simply, that its not so bad as the world is an interesting place). Before long, its time to head off – the band have their performance on the BBC to attend and I was booked in for a cup of tea and a cake with my mum.

My conversation with them proved that Songhoy Blues and Glastonbury Festival are a natural fit. It was clear to me, and the sizeable crowd that saw them that day, that this was the just the beginning of the next chapter in something very special.

 

Songhoy Blues – Mali

“Mali’s Age of Empire”; a talk by Kevin MacDonald TOMORROW

Sudbury Library – Wednesday 15 April at 7:30pm

Mali’s Age of Empire:

Sundiata, Mansa Musa and Timbuktu (AD 1200-1500)

A talk by Professor Kevin Macdonald, University College London

SUDBURY 2 YANFOLILA

Linking Sudbury with a town in Mali for 2014/15 and learning about things we have in common

Many people may have heard of Timbuktu, but how many know where it is, or that it once formed part of the greatest of Africa’s indigenous Empires? Prof Kevin MacDonald (UCL) will speak about his 25+ years of researching the past of Mali and such characters as Sundiata Keita (Africa’s real Lion King) and Mansa Musa (named recently by the  Independent as the richest man who ever lived). Within this African imperial narrative, MacDonald will consider the origins and destiny of Africa’s near mythic city of gold: Timbuktu.

Free entry but there will be a collection at the end to support work in Mali.

To download a flyer click here.

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Mylmo – Propheciline 

“I thought I knew something about Malian music. Toumani Diabate, Rokia Traore, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Vieux Farka Toure, Tinariwen. They’re the heroes, right? They’re the legends, the pop icons, the road blockers. I know there are rappers in Mali, just as I know there are rappers all over Africa. But I never knew that the rappers had taken over.” – Andy Morgan

Monday just passed (22nd of September 2014) was Mali’s Independence Day. It’s 54th to be precise, and the country was congratulated from all over the world on another year of self-rule and a day of national pride. Mali is perhaps one of the few countries in the world that would receive such messages of support from President’s of both the USA and Iran, the former highlighting the Malian government’s continued commitment to democratic rule and reconciliation, the latter using the day to emphasise its on-going goal of improving relations with the country and continent.

From a British perspective Malian independence means a whole lot for the residents of Hay-on-Wye in Powys, just on the Welsh-side of the border. Hay-on-Wye is twinned with Timbuktu and – accordingly – marks Malian independence with fundraising and celebrations. This year it took the form of a week-long multi-cultural affair with displays, cinema, food and music events all aimed at raising funds to help tackle some of it’s twin-town’s most pressing urban problems. In similar festival spirit seen during the Olympic games in London and the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, displays will line the windows of the town and later this week Mark Saade, Malian Consul, will judge the entries. Good luck, and good fun to everyone there.

Of course, the most important place on Mali Independence Day is Mali itself. This year passes with barely a hint of the optimism or relief from last year‘s celebrations – many people in Mali are now of the opinion that the government has failed to act, is not delivering on its promises and has slipped into the corruptive problems of the past. Regionally, the threat of Ebola looms large, bringing further bad news to an already challenging economic and agricultural recovery.  This does not mean that Malian’s are not down-trodden. Community action appears to be bubbling and Malian’s from many walks of life are motivated to step in, in their government’s absence, to make the changes they wish to see.

This week’s song of the week is for Mali’s youth. The passage at the top of the page is to remind us of all the love, support and admiration we provide for Malian’s and their country, at the end of the day, it is their country and we must celebrate the way they do. Andy Morgan declares that Malian rap music has “taken over” Mali’s music scene. Sequentially, this must mean they have also captured the most popular vehicle for political discourse in the country.

Mali’s rap may not be its most popular musical export to the Western world. However, if you want to know what’s going on in the hearts of everyday Malians – if you want to hear what its people are saying – then Mali’s rap music is definitely the place to begin listening.

Mylmo – Propheciline

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Vieux Farka Touré – Ay Bakoy

Now, this week is a big one. The track is “Ay Bakoy” by rising super-star Vieux Farka Touré. Vieux has inevitably spent most of his career being spoken to in reference to his father, the late and great, Ali Farka Touré. Vieux’s latest album “Mon Pays” that was released in May could potentially change this. The emotional weight and maturity that rings through the album shows that Vieux is even more than the fantastically fun, energetic, electric guitar wielding showman many of us have come to admire. Upon release a statement on his own website describes how the album “is a homage to beautiful Mali and her people”. In his own words:

“For me it is a statement for the world that this land is for the sons and daughters of Mali, not for Al Qaeda or any militants. This land is for peace and beauty, rich culture and tolerance. This is our heritage, what we must always fight to protect in any way that we can. For me, that means making music that reminds the world of who we are.”

Fresh from his musical adventures with Israeli pianist and vocalist Idan Raichel the album has depth, precision and effortless sophistication to show that Vieux, like Ali before him, has the potential to use his talents to capture the imagination of his country and the world.

The album is also overtly political. For example the title of the two tracks made in collaboration with fellow Malian artist Sidiki Diabate are entitled “Future” and “Peace”. The track “Ay Bakoy” itself feels particularly reflective especially as a new political era in Mali struggles into existence following the worst violence for a generation. Vieux confesses that the album’s direction was already underway before the crisis began to unfold in January 2012. It appears that Vieux has embraced the added significance thrust upon the album and has delivered on it beautifully.

Vieux Farka Toure  – Ay Bakoy

Vieux Farka Touré is touring at present, with some dates in Europe including one date in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 24th.

 

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Bombino – Imuhar

It’s Wednesday morning and that means only one thing: it is time for a song from Mali. Today we are delighted to introduce our first musician of Tuareg heritage to feature on the Track of the Week: Omara “Bombino” Moctar. The Tuareg or Kel Tamasheq, as they refer to themselves, have their own deep musical, political, and religious history that is well worth exploring. Andy Morgan has recently published a book that goes a long way in explaining this history and perhaps can begin to help one understand how the Tuareg often struggle in modern Malian life, including with the issue of their independence and their involvement in the country’s current armed conflict.

Bombino himself has an incredible life story which can be read in great detail here. He was born on the first day of 1980 in an encampment of Nomadic Tuaregs in Niger and his life can in many ways relate to the issues outlined above. After the droughts of the mid-80s and during the conflict on the early 90s Bombino – through chance – found himself in possession of a guitar. The guitar had recently been adopted by the Tuareg as a way of projecting their teachings and values through song. At an age not much older than 10 he began to teach himself and after a while Bombino found himself incorporating his music into political rallies and other cultural crafts – including cinema. He even managed to land a role as an extra in a French film that explains the origin of the title of this song of the week.

We have found this delightful live rendition of his and his band’s song “Imuhar” in the link below. Like most music from Mali and the Sahel it takes on an ever-greater energy and purpose when performed live. Bombino is performing live in London on the 25th October. We’ll probably see you there.

Bombino – Imuhar