5 minutes read

My Favorite Photographs: Arnaud Contreras

The Sahara is changing fast. Still a beautiful desert but not just that. Most populated cities such as Tamanrasset or Timbuktu are microcosms that reveal all the problems of those former touristic regions: threats of terrorism, trafficking, illegal migration and pressures on cultural and natural heritages. The only ways to escape this harsh reality for Saharan and Tuareg youth are cybercafés, mobile phone culture, festivals and soirées guitare (“guitar evenings”) celebrating their guitar heroes, the “Ishumar”, such as Tinariwen, Terakaft, Tamikrest, Bombino and many other bands. In their songs they celebrate the link between desert nature, old poetry, and of course women, whose role is essential in their society. Some texts may seem like calls for rebellion, but mainly those are calls for a self-consciousness as a people, of their identities.

3 minutes read

Timbuktu: It’s like a library has burned

News came yesterday, violent, rotten news. It’s been a steady rhythm from Mali, a country that has already suffered too much. But there’s something brutal in the news that Salafist…..

4 minutes read

Foreign correspondents and false notes

Two things I’ve learned about the popular press in the last few months: you don’t get to pick your own headline, and you don’t want anyone thinking that the inevitable…..

6 minutes read

My favorite photographs N°10: Candace Feit

I wasn’t familiar with the work of photographer Candace Feit before browsing the web recently, following up on the online presence of a South African organisation I hold in high…..

2 minutes read

The war in Mali’s North–to what effect?

There is war in Mali’s North, and there doesn’t need to be. Some of this conflict is hard to stop–the shadow boxing of distant powers, the scattering of weapons, the…..

2 minutes read

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…..

3 minutes read

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,…..

4 minutes read

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:

7 minutes read

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: