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Music from the West African country of Mali
Date:2013-3-4    Publisher:本站原创

Music from the West African country of Mali


 

Welcome to As It Is.  I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Today, we are talking about music from the West African country of Mali.  Mali is famous for its music.  But that tradition has been threatened recently.

The crisis in Mali began last year, when soldiers overthrew the president.  And Islamist militants soon seized control of the north.  The militants put cultural restrictions on the area -- including restrictions on music.

Bassekou Kouyate is a musician from Mali who has won many international awards.  He recently was in London with his band, Ngoni Ba.  Ngoni is the name of a traditional Malian instrument.  It is a six-string instrument that you play with your fingers.  It sounds like this.

Bassekou Kouyate was in London to perform in a concert.  While he was there, he criticized the Islamist militants’ restrictions on music in his country. He says music is a Muslim tradition.

“The prophet Mohammed himself invited an orchestra to his house to perform at a festival for his wife.”

One of Bassekou Kouyate’s new songs is called “Jama Ko.”  Jama means “country,” and “ko” means about, so the song is about the country.  Bassekou Kouyate says he wrote the song to tell the world what he thinks the true Malian spirit is.

Heather Maxwell hosts VOA’s “Music Time in Africa” program.  She is an American who lived in Mali.  She says, the lyrics of “Jama Ko” mean something like, “If there’s a big party, everybody comes and dresses nicely.  Don’t be shy.  Even if you are not rich, you can come and enjoy yourself.  Do what you feel is in your heart.”

“He’s saying Malians in general are very peaceful people.  And it’s true.  The general attitude and spirit there is one of openness. And no one is really shy about just being human and being who they are.”

Several other Malian musicians performed with Bassekou Kouete in Europe.  One was Sidi Touré. For a while, Islamist militants occupied his hometown, called Gao.

“The musical instruments that belonged to the city orchestra were burned.  There are no more instruments.”

French and West African forces have pushed the Islamist militants out of Gao as well as from most other towns and cities they controlled.  But international forces are still fighting militants in the far north of Mali, near the Algerian border.

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