Bassekou Kouyate – Désert Nianafing feat. Amy Sacko, Afel Bocoum & Ahmed ag Kaedi
Such was the success of last weekend’s ‘Festival sur la Niger’ that some commentators have declared Segou, the host town, the new cultural capital of Mali. Segou’s Mayor goes a step further, declaring it a centre of cultural excellence in West Africa. Indeed the festival is proving to be a triumph of modern Mali embracing a music as a vehicle – literally a ‘caravan’ – for peace and for recognising rap and hip-hop as a – perhaps the – powerful contemporary art form. Tourism and diplomatic interest has been spurred on by the strength of character and ambition displayed in preparing the festival.
Bassekou Kouyate performed on the Saturday evening, along with a host of big names in the Malian music world, in what must have been the most vivid, passionate and liberating artistic expression to occur in Mali for some years. This week’s Song of the Week celebrates every ounce of work that has been ploughed into making the above a reality. Reading about the peaceful success of an important national show-piece makes the heart swell with hope.