Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Oumou Sangaré – Wele Wele Wintou

Today’s track comes from Oumou Sangare’s 2009 album ‘Seya’; a triumph in almost every way and is completely worthy of its title, which means “joy” in Wassoulou. Sangare burst onto the music scene when she was very young and it somewhat took the world by surprise in 2009 to find she had turned 41. Her age was revealed to be just a number, as ‘Seya’ encapsulates and accelerates that quintessentially Sangare energy which flies freely like a songbird.

The BBC stated at the time that the album was “the best thing since her marvellous 1991 debut Moussoulou, which is one of the all time great treasures of Malian music.” The New York Times emphasised her incredible vocal talent, pointing out quite rightly that “any number of pop stars might trade a great deal to be able to pull off “Wele Wele Wintou””. To show of exactly what the Times is talking about, we have made this particular song our Mali Song of the Week.

‘Seya’ was released 6 years ago, but her presence as one of Mali’s greatest musicians is undiminished. ‘Seya’ did great work in elevating her and solidifying her to this lofty place. But Sangare is evidentially grounded, wielding her power and fame intelligently, warning of the risks; “while you’re an artist, you’re free to say what you think; when you’re a politician, you follow instructions from higher up.” Her caution and anti-sensationalist remarks here cloak her innovative side, which admittedly, is plainly obvious in her music. She has made a pretty good go at being an entrepreneur having amongst other ventures opened a hotel in Bamako and launched her own brand of SUV.

The interview above regarding the SUVs is definitely worth a read as it details so much about her likeable character. Read right to the end, to the last two sentences that sum up her paradoxical industrious-yet-at-ease attitude excellently. “I would like to…” she starts, ending with a “Maybe.” What comes in-between is completely up to her and completely within her grasp.


Oumou Sangaré – Wele Wele Wintou


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

Charity Registration Number: 1088140

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *