Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Amadou & Mariam – Bagnale (feat. Abdallah Oumbadougou)

This week we draw your attention to an incredible event of two weeks ago. In Bamako about a thousand women marched on Tuesday 12th May chanting “on veux la paix” (“We want peace”) wielding banners urging all representatives at the peace talks to sign the agreement being presented. Their banners argued for “uni, sécurisé et laïc soutiennent” (united, secure and secular) support for peace and for an undivided Mali. The history of women in war is bleak making the actions and bravery of those that marched in Bamako even more significant. Quite inspirational stuff but, tragically, these women have not seen the result they campaigned for as major rebel groups have since snubbed the proposals.

Amadou & Mariam are well known and well loved here on the Hub. But who is Abdallah Oumbadougou? His story is remarkably similar to that of fellow self-taught Tuareg guitarist Bombino or that of Tinariwen; provoking imagery “of Touareg rebels leading the charge, machine gun in hand and electric guitar slung over the shoulder.” Since these early years of a war-inflicted youth, Abdallah Oumbadougou has occupied himself in a number of ways, notably a great commitment to education. From his Wikipedia page we have learned that:

“Abdullah used his fame to preserve the Tuareg culture . He thus founded the Takrist n’tada Association , which promotes the rights of young artists and builds music schools to teach girls to handle the inzad, an old traditional Tuareg monotone . He also built two schools : a first in Arlit in 2000 and a second in 2003 in Agadez.” (Translated from French using Google Translate).

Oumbadougou mixed with Amadou & Mariam – like the recent march of the women – is deeply symbolic of the strength of an unified Mali of multiple interlinked and concurrent cultures. Perhaps more importantly, each group’s story – the women on the street and the world-famous musicians – emphasise the imperative of ending conflict to enable a fairer future for all.


Amadou & Mariam – Bagnale (feat. Abdallah Oumbadougou)

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