Tag Archives: TheyWillHaveToKillUsFirst

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Ballaké Sissoko – Badjourou

People of Oxford! If there are any of you out there with a Socials - Oxford (1)spare evening tonight then head on to the Phoenix Picturehouse at 6pm for your opportunity to see ‘They Will Have to Kill Us First‘ the film about Mali’s fearless, insatiable musicians that won’t give up their country without a fight. With an original score, its a must see for any Malian music lover. Not to be missed.

For those not in and around Oxford do not fret. As well as a list of other screenings there are other things to keep your senses entertained. On the Hub we are particularly fond of pleasing your ears and as well as this stunning piece of music from kora-mastermind Ballaké Sissoko you could also turn your attention to the latest instalment of Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ on the Empire of Mali – a fascinating and wholly under-appreciated period of history. Mali’s Empire at its pinnacle was as big as southern Europe and according to the show was the biggest African empire ever.

If you don’t have 45 minutes spare to listen to the show now UK listeners can download the conversation to listen to later or whilst out and about. Due to its relative obscurity as a historical topic, the first task of the gathered academics is to get the listener up to speed with the scale and majesty of this Empire – no easy task. For some details there is simply no comparison with any other point in history. The language makes it impossible to imagine anything other than gleaming stacks of gold, great armies, riches in textiles, architecture and jewellery. And not just these material goods, but also the authority of grandeur in science, the arts and religion; all oozing control and command for the Empire’s ruling class to wield. The strumming and plucking of Sissoko in ‘Badjourou’ harks to a medieval royal court. The steady march, the flowing and insatiable beauty. Untold luxury in the desert – for 2000km from the Atlantic to the heart of Africa. For 400 years.

 

Ballaké Sissoko – Badjourou

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. 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.

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Amkoullel – Sinin

Last night at the Picturehouse Central in London, the film They Will Have to Kill Us First screened for the first time to a European audience. The film charts the lives of different Malian musicians through the carnage of extremist Islamic militant takeover of the northern half of their country – banning music in the process. The film’s launch was – naturally – full of emotion, as people from all over the world came together to listen to the musicians stories of terror, loss and censorship in a stunning documentary. The film begins back in 2012 and plunges the viewer straight into violent and chaotic scenes. It is a chilling reminder of just how bad it got. The band Songhoy Blues’ struggle and rise to fame form the “backbone”(to quote director Johanna Schwartz) of the film. Young, bright and charasmatic, the band’s members are articulate and insightful about the conflict and its rolling implications. They are also staggeringly talented and their original music, along with fresh contributions from the likes of Vieux Farka Toure and rap-star Amkoullel, come together it a must-have film soundtrack which it was a relief to hear will be released on CD in its own right next year.

What really makes this film special is its longetivity. Relatively speaking, the documentary’s focus is quite narrow – a handful of Malian’s followed over a 3 year period. It allows for the viewer to get to know the characters and appreciate just how important music is to their identity and sense of well-being. Each character at some point during the film tells of how they are unable to sing, play or write their music due to dibilitating sadness. Music is the rallying point and with inspiration performances the artists breathe life into war-torn communities. The film therefore hammers-home the point that music is crucial to Mali’s peace and security and holds the key to unlocking it’s youth’s potential – a youth that is frighteningly close to being wasted. Worse still, Aliou – Songhoy Blues’ lead singer – warns that this disenfrancised youth, brought up in anarchic surroundings, are the next conflict waiting to happen.

Music engages people and as another character in the film explained it “teaches morality”. That’s why last night, at the Premier, the launch of the Music in Exile Fund was the most welcome news of the night. The Fund will “contribute towards Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship, a year-long programme to support those facing censorship.” The film’s magic just couldn’t be abated, and has spilled pleasingly into supporting a very worthy cause. Hopefully with this support, the Index on Censorship will be in an even greater position to support potential stars of the future in Mali and across the world. Please consider donating to the fund by following the links to the They Will Have to Kill Us First website.

The film will be showing on screens across the UK from next week. For tickets and upcoming screenings of They Will Have to Kill Us First click here.

 

Amkoullel – Sinin

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. 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.

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Tinariwen – Iswegh Attay

Apologies for a brief one this week – life getting in the way of a fully-developed Wednesday instalment. However, never wanting to leave you without the musical charms of Mali on a mid-week morning, here it is.

Feels sad to not do this song justice, however this does give us the opportunity to bring to your attention They Will Have to Kill Us First – “a feature-length documentary following musicians in Mali in the wake of a jihadist takeover and subsequent banning of music.”

If this sounds like your kind thing (how could it not?) then I can highly recommend the website (http://www.theywillhavetokillusfirst.com/) which also details screenings times and locations happening across the UK.

See you there!

 

Tinariwen – Iswegh Attay

 

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. 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.