Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Afel Bocoum – Buribalal

Culture! West Africa is full of it. Mali being a big part of that. It’s neighbours, Guinea and Niger, weigh in heavily in that regard too. And its not just about music and the British Library is currently doing a wonderful job of explaining that. Through manuscript displays, film, sound, textiles, poetry and artefacts the early- to late-modern history of this fantastic region is brought to life in a magnificent exhibition. Here’s a great Christmas Gift idea: for £10.00 (or less!) you can have a Curator-Led tour of the exhibition, available through to February 9th 2016.

Back in the early 90’s – when this week’s Song of the Week was forged – Bocoum was understudy to the great Ali Farka Toure, who had this to say about him in a short documentary: ” In all truth I hope he would go further than me. I think he will contribute to our art, culture and history, we must learn from him too.” Sounds like Farka Toure called it years ahead of time, as I review what we have written previously about Afel Bocoum’s diverse cultural and intellectual offerings. He does not carry the same majesty as Farka Toure, but perhaps no one ever will. And who ever said fame was a precursor to making cultural and historical contributions? Bocoum’s achievements have been great and he is still out there striving, contributing to Mali’s history as he goes. For example, he was an important part of the ‘revival‘ of Mali’s music scene following the war and the ban in 2012 and continues to be a great ambassador for his country and region to the world.


Afel Bocoum – Buribalal


Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group –

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at 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.

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