Monday, April 30th, 2012

Mali–don’t talk about somebody’s mama

Monday evening, and it’s hard to tell who’s shooting up Bamako, or why. But someone cracks on Twitter “béé b’i ba bolo.” It’s one thing to stage a counter-coup or settle a score (if that’s what’s going on), it’s another thing to talk about somebody’s mama.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Parisian Africa: The artistic intersections of the Métropole

Guest Post by Lara N. Dotson-Renta Paris has always been renowned for its culture and support of the arts. Yet, as France has grown into an ever more pluralistic society, the traditional image of what constitutes art...

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Uganda, now you have touched the women

In October 2011, the Ugandan government sent Ingrid Turinawe to the infamous Luzira Prison--Uganda’s Guantánamo--for the treasonable act of walking to work. This week, the State, again, attacked Turinawe and other women activists for the “crime” of...

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Why is so much outside coverage of the Mali crisis so bad?

Why is so much outside coverage of the Mali crisis so bad? I don’t mean the conventional wallowing in clichés / recycling old images / harkening back to colonial stereotypes kind of bad, although there’s all that...

Thursday, April 12th, 2012


You don’t stand in one place to watch a masquerade, as Chinua Achebe famously said. It moves. You move with it. Same goes for demonstrations. On Saturday a few hundred people marched in Paris for peace in...

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

The racial politics of Tuareg nationalism

Like good nomads ought to be, Tuareg desert blues super group Tinariwen are on tour. I hear good things about them as individuals, and I’m sure they’re all fine human beings, but I’m not a big fan....

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Tinariwen speaks on the coup in Mali

Tuareg musicians Tinariwen, on tour in Europe these days, spent some time in Belgium this weekend. Belgian public broadcaster VRT [they’ll do a feature on Mali blues once a year, usually at the end of June, covering...

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Mali’s Democracy–Down but not out

It’s windy in Bamako, says Martin Vogl, a journalist who’s been there for about three years now. Vogl and some of his peers are doing a great job in reporting what’s going on. But with all that...

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Mali’s coup — ‘Politics is bad’

Columbia history professor Gregory Mann writes the second of his of posts (here’s the first) on last week’s military coup in Mali for Africa is a Country:

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

They talk a lot. Let them talk.

That first line is one by Tunde Adebimpe (joined by fellow TV on the Radio musician Kyp Malone) from his collaboration with Amadou & Mariam on ‘Wily Kataso’. The second line is the title of Spoek Mathambo’s latest...

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Mali’s coup—first thoughts

Gregory Mann, associate professor of history at Columbia University in New York City,* writes a guest post for Africa is a Country on the coup in Mali:

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The coup against democracy in Mali

Here's video of the coup announcement in Mali. Ridiculous. The screen is dark at first -- they were having technical difficulties -- but the image appears after 30 seconds or so. See the scene. As for the...

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Music Break. Mokobe

Mokobe commentates on the actions of Rihannon, Naomi Campboule, Rachida Beckham and friends over a Coupé-Decalé riddim. The music production is pretty standard, but the video is at least funny. Update (3/19): Following heated reactions from fans,...

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Music Break. Rocket Juice and the Moon

Another tune off the Tony Allen—Damon Albarn—Flea conglomerate project Rocket Juice & The Moon. “Follow-Fashion” plays like a horn-flanked afrobeat progression, featuring heavy slap bass from Flea, Damon on the vertical piano, sensuous croons from Mali’s Fatoumata...

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The University of Gnawa

The new video for the song “Alf Hilat” by Moroccan lute player and singer Aziz Sahmaoui (he made his name playing jazz with the late Joe Zawinul), off ‘University of Gnawa’, his album (it came out late...

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Music Break. Vincent Segal & Ballaké Sissoko

French cellist Vincent Segal and kora master Ballaké Sissoko (from Mali) recorded the 2009 ‘Chamber Music’ album in Salif Keita’s Moffou Studio. Three years later, this is their Take Away Show. (First part here.)

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Tuareg Nationalism

A quick survey of Western media suggests Tuareg nationalist claims don’t carry the same weight as Malian, Nigerian or Algerian claims on Tuareg territory. For example, the current violence in Niger and Mali are covered as either...

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Music Break. Kaba Blon

Thinking about Mbalax Dub, got me wanting to share some more of Kaba Blon. It doesn’t seem like they have uploaded anything online yet, and the only song available for purchase I believe is Moribayassa. But, Mo Laudi...

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Some African Cup of Nations History

This item, below, from The Guardian’s (excellent) Sports Blog’s weekly round-up of Youtube videos (basically random stuff they dug up from the history of sports) can help get you into the mood for today’s last first round...

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Music Break. Woklow

Malinese rapper Amkoullel gets some help from Pap G and Young Keitch in his “battle between good and evil.” The track itself is so-so, but it did remind us we should soon write a post about the...

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Oh Amadou

I think it was 2005 when I first saw Amadou & Mariam play live. At the local summer festival in Brussels, the tent was pretty much empty when they walked on stage. An hour later, toward the...

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Music Break. Kouyaté-Neerman

We read that the balafon is being considered for inclusion on Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Lansiné Kouyaté knows how to play it.

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

‘Emerging’ Photographers

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

“Making French money isn’t easy”

Mamani Keita arrived in Paris in the late eighties as a backing vocalist for Salif Keita. And ended up staying. “Making French money isn’t easy,” she sings. It’s the title track of her new album with music...

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Music Break / Fatoumata Diawara

Easy listening. ‘Bassa’ is a song by the Côte d’Ivoire-born, Mali-raised and now France-based artist Fatoumate Diawara. We could use a translation — because maybe it’s no easy listening at all. Anyone?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

An American Singer in Mali

Collaborations between American and West African, specifically Malian, musicians are nothing new (see below). But, Adam Klein, a successful American folk musician from Georgia who has a long association with Mali (the locals call him by the...

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Medea is a Malian woman

By Dan Moshenberg Did you hear about Medea? You know, the woman who killed her two kids? It turns out, according to the Associated Press, she lives in Mali, and her name is Coumba, or maybe Tabita....

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Music Break / SMOD

SMOD (one of NPR’s “5 new African bands that ruled in 2010″) have written an ode to ‘the young girls of Mali’. Personally I think 2011 will be the year for them, touring heavily in Europe this...

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Music Break

The video for “All the Same” by Vieux Farka Toure, son of Ali, from his new album, “The Secret.” The song features the singer Dave Matthews (born in South Africa). Yes him.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

‘The Secret’

No it’s not the formula to rid Libya of Gaddafi and his sons, but the announcement of Vieux Farka Toure’s new album next month.

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