Tartit – Achachore I Chachare Akale
Tartit are a band from the Tombouctou Region of Mali. Tombouctou is the largest of the eight regions at 496,611 square kilometres, which makes it roughly the size of Spain. It stretches from Mali’s northern-most tip, deep in the Sahara desert, all the way down to Mali’s slim waist that marks the north-south divide. To the east of here is Tombouctou’s world-famous capital city, Timbuktu.
The band members of Tartit formed the group many miles from this region in a refugee camp in Mauritania, following the conflict in Mali in the early 1990s. The group is made up of 5 women who play the traditional instruments like the imzad whilst the 4 male members play the ngoni and electric guitar. A symbolic line-up as far as gender-equality in Africa goes and it seems that the female role in playing ‘traditional’ instruments is not a microcosm of female-oppression – the women of the band have a reputation for strong characters – though in interview it was said that it was unheard of to have a woman play ngoni. Additionally, their Wikipedia page speaks of UN-endorsed association dedicated to preserving Mali’s culture and also to develop “schools for children and economic opportunities for women”. During the recent conflict they expressed regret that it was “difficult for this foundation to operate and function right now. The crisis in the north has brought much suffering and deprivation to the local people.”