Skip to comments.Mali: silencing the music
Posted on 01/19/2013 4:27:21 AM PST by huldah1776
WE ALL have a favourite album. Mine is Talking Timbuktu, the collaboration between the great Malian musician Ali Farka Tourι and Ry Cooder. Arguably its some of the best guitar playing youll ever hear. Ali died in 2006 but his son Vieux carries the sound onward, that curious mix of African soul and heart with a blues base.
So it was with utter horror that I heard Lucy Duran, who hosts the BBC programme World Routes and teaches the anthropology of world music at SOAS, say in an emotional comment this week that one of the terrible side effects of the extreme Islamic fundamentalism now invading northern Mali is the silencing of music. Outlawed under Sharia law, all instruments, radio, CD players have been destroyed, and as Lucy chillingly said, those seen playing guitars were threatened with having their fingers cut off.
Its hard to imagine what pain Ali who was Mayor in his home town Niafunke, close to Timbuktu, and championed music as the universal way to unite people, singing in all his countrys languages, would feel. Nor the fact that the extraordinary Festival in the Desert the annual gathering of the Toureg, African and International musicians in the Sahara desert beyond Timbuktu has also been banned. This year Oumou Sangarι, another Malian musician, will lead a caravan to a new location at Oursi in Burkino Faso, for he like many of the other Malian musicians refuses not to sing. Music, he says, embodies the spirit of a free and victorious Africa.
Hes right. Africa is music to me, and perhaps no band embodies the spirit of this more than Tinariwen, the Berber Toureg group who were formed in a refugee camp on the borders of Mali before they were able to return home and have now fled for their lives again. Of course, one can understand why the militant extremists are suspicious of music: it is subversive, it does cross borders, it does unite peoples, and most importantly, in a continent dependent oral tradition, it tells the tales that might be forgotten.
Music is dangerous. Of course, hard-line Islamists believe it corrupts, perhaps, Westerners who made it to the Festival in the Desert did bring their drink and drugs, or inappropriate dress codes, fundamentalism is always about control. But the music of Africas peoples existed long before the religion.
Tinariwen have performed with The Rolling Stones and many other notable Western bands. I hope now in Malis hours of need that those who have money, those who have influence and those who so often sing of freedom and put their arms around their African colleagues on stage are prepared to stand up and be counted.
Ibrahim Ali Farka was the only of his mothers ten sons to survive past childhood, so they named him Farka, which means donkey, because of his tenacity and stubbornness. Mali musicians will need all the determinedness of the donkey in days ahead if the deserts are to sing again.
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord:
always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;..."
Not so. At the folk musical festivals I’ve been to, the real musicians don’t get wasted. They’re high on music. I guess it’s the audience members who think that the only way that they can get high is with drugs.
Will they support military action, the only thing that will free the musicians of Mali?
Or will they preen themselves on "standing up" and making a cost-free (indeed ego and prestige boosting) public demand that the repression stop?
Military action by whom? And under what rules of engagement?
While her favorite album sounds interesting, she’s incredibly naive (ignorant) not to have known that islamists would forbid music
My question was generic.
The same people probably have a bumper sticker saying “War Is Not the Answer.”
Well, in Mali war IS the answer.
Tinariwen was formed by Toureg militant rebels. It will be interesting to see what side they come down on here.
So I looked it up. Turns out it's a core component of sharia. Those Muslims who don't enforce the law are just ignoring it.