Monday, January 21, 2013

The threat to Malian music – and everything else worthwhile

From the Independent:

The image of Mali has long been a gentle one. It is a land of magical music and mouth-watering mangoes, of mud mosques and medieval manuscripts. A country dripping with history and culture that was slowly forcing its way on to the tourist map for Western visitors. Now, following the intervention of French warplanes nine days ago, it will be more associated in most people's minds with Islamic militancy.

This is a tragic twist for a people whose faith revolves around the more tolerant strands of Sufism. For all its poverty, Mali has traditionally been open to outsiders. It is a nation where women are prominent and musicians more closely entwined with everyday life than perhaps any other place on earth. Music has long been part of the social and political fabric, from praise singers who, for centuries, passed on the oral history to the state-funded bands used to bond the nation after independence.

When I first went there almost a decade ago, it was for the famous Festival in the Desert, some 50 miles from Timbuktu and a symbol of reconciliation after a previous Tuareg uprising. It took three days to get there; Westerners reaching the event were treated like old friends. Days were spent sheltering from fierce sun in tents, chatting over cups of sweet tea and biscuits. At night, those amazing musicians who have taken Malian music around the globe performed in front of turbaned tribesmen on camels while burning braziers lit up the desert. An unforgettable experience.
Where once there was music and dancing, today there is misery and deprivation
More here.

3 comments:

  1. Basically, Sufism is great; Salafism is infamy

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  2. Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Portal, so it will be helpful info for my works.

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  3. "Days were spent sheltering from fierce sun in tents, chatting over cups of sweet tea and biscuits. At night, those amazing musicians who have taken Malian music around the globe performed in front of turbaned tribesmen on camels while burning braziers lit up the desert." This evokes so many memories for me that I re-read the article three times. The events of this year are bitter for me. There is a saying among the Tuareg, which translates roughly as "If you put a rope around your own neck, God will supply someone to pull it."... in this case, the rope-puller is Iyad Ag Ghaly, a creep who has been lurking in Malian politics for quite some time.

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