Sunday, 27 January 2013

Islamic extremists drive Mali's music away

Rokia Traore

In a telling interview in the Times, Mali singer Khaira Arby, the 'Nighingale of the North', has said that Islamic extremists have threatened to 'out out my tongue' if they capture her. Khaira has been driven from her home in Northern Mali by fundamentalist thugs, and members of the al-Qaeda linked Ansar Din are looking to impose a strict and conservative version of Sharia law accross North Africa - which would ban music. Khaira's musical instruments and recording equipment were destroyed by religious police when she fled her home in Timbuktu. The world famous Festival of The Desert has relocated to Burkina Faso and renamed the 'Caravan For Peace'. The Glastonbury Festival has already announced Malian singer Rokia Traore as one of a number of Malian artists to be booked at the festival this year  in an act of solidarity with musicians in Mali.

You can see Africa Express's co-founder Ian Birrell's thoughts in an interesting piece in the Observer that  says that music is vital to political struggle across Africa – not just in Mali and says that banning music in Mali is outrageous, not least because it's crucial to the country's wellbeing. More from Ian here

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