Tag Archives: Cheick Tidaine Seck

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Cheick-Tidane Seck – Watjoro

Nearly a month ago, the conflict that has been raging in Mali’s north ‘formally’ came to an end. At least with the Azawad rebel groups. In the weeks since violence has continued unabated with fragmented rebel groups continuing to war with Malian troops, UN Peacekeepers being massacred, high-profile assassinations and killings, and international organisations increasingly being targeted. Not really the peace we’ve been waiting for. Its a start however; the fact that Tuareg and Arab separatist leaders were present cannot be understated – these parties failed to attend a similar event in May which lead to fears that no solution was imminent. This ‘formal’ ending of conflict has ended political deadlock and has provided a roadmap, albeit just a sketch of one, to “federalism in all but name”, as an African diplomat put it.

So with one war over, gaping holes remain in Mali’s overall security. Even the German Foreign minister, visiting Mali recently ahead of German take-over of the EU training mission, made it clear that “there is still a long way to go before the Malian armed forces can undertake the security of the country on their own.” A new frontier on the war has opened up on the border with the Ivory Coast, showing that conflict in the country is no longer isolated to the sparsely populated, desert expanse of the north.

There is still a place for Cheick-Tidane Seck then; the “Keyboard Warrior” and one part of the Malian, afro-cuban, super-group the “Ambassadors”. Of course, Seck is no conventional diplomat, preferring communication through his own brand of jazz. A great collaborator, Seck could probably teach the politicians and generals a few things about harmonising people from different cultures with different histories and ideas to create something that can be celebrated by all.


Cheick-Tidane Seck – Watjoro

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Cheick Tidiane Seck – Fera Na Fere

It has been a long time since Cheick “The Keyboard Warrior” Seck made his way onto the Hub. Inspired by last week’s post about the ‘Festival Sur la Niger’, Ségou-born Cheick Tidiane Seck is making a fitting appearance. Seck is well known for his political beliefs and is especially outspoken on the issue of war and peace. These views are not confined to protesting against wars fought with guns and armoured vehicles however as they also extend to a range of issues including liberal globalisation. For Seck this outspoken attitude has not come with age as it is evident that his personality and political passions have long been a defining part of his character, earning him the nickname ‘Che Guevara’ in his early years.

As with Seck’s previous selection by the Hub, this week’s Song comes from his 2013 album ‘Guerrier’ (that’s “Warrior”, in French). There is a key, confusing, and ultimately troubling, reason for this. Over the last 9 months, since defeat in late May 2014, Malian’s have been dealing with the fallout from the Malian government’s failure to secure Kidal, a key northern-eastern town, from Tuareg rebel group MNLA. Frustration is mounting into violent outbursts again the UN Peacekeeping force MINUSMA, which has been authorised with the mission of stabilizing the country, re-establishing state authority and notably in expanding  “…its presence, including through long-range patrols and within its capacities, in the north of Mali beyond key population centres, notably in areas where civilians were at risk”. It is on this specific point in which government and international agencies appear to be having most difficulty.

As often happens in these moments of high-tension and conflict, some have decided to take matters into their own hands. This is a quite confusing and troubling development. According to a patchwork of reports, this has manifested in a new, also Tuareg, rebel group called GATIA. It appears that GATIA are a loyalist outfit, a “self-defence” militia made up of Malian army veterans and until recently has drawn no comment of condemnation or praise from Malian officials – despite its emergence in August last year. In what appears to be a very grim state of affairs the BBC reported the following:

Correspondents say there are strong suspicions that the government is increasingly relying on militia groups such as Gatia to strengthen its position against the MNLA in the north. A UN source told the AFP news agency that two bombers blew themselves up in the attack near Tabankort town while a third was killed before he could detonate himself.

It is the BBC’s use of the word ‘relying’ which is most troubling perhaps. Is the state of affairs so bleak, the government’s strength so shattered that they are willing to rely on the bloody, twisted, tit-for-tat battles of suicide bombers to win their war? Its a frightening prospect. One which the UN in an ever familiar role seems, at best, only able to spectate over. And with this news another vicious blow is dealt to that other prospect, throwing it long past the horizon again. That is, of course, the prospect of there being an end to the war in Mali.



Cheick Tidaine Seck – Fera Na Fere