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"We are not only against the musicians in Mali. We are in a struggle against all the musicians of the world.”
December 1, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Militants versus musicians in Mali. Extremist groups controlling Northern Mali [previously, previously] have been cracking down on musicians. "Western" music has been banned, but so has Mali's age-old griot tradition.

Among other things, this means this year's Festival Au Désert will be held in Burkina Faso rather than outside Timbuktu.
posted by Pallas Athena (32 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Extremists against music? A collab would be awesome.
posted by idiopath at 9:11 AM on December 1, 2012


Extremists out to eradicate indigenous and international culture?

Oh, thank you, Religion, for being the perfect lubricant, fuel and intoxicant for the cretinous, malicious and power-mad of the world!

These assholes make the most rabid dice-hating, dance-stopping Baptists seem like Restoration rakes on a bender.
posted by the sobsister at 9:21 AM on December 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


I try to avoid the word evil, but this is fucking evil.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:21 AM on December 1, 2012


"And in any case, they know that a Mali without music is an impossibility."
I think life without music is an impossibility. Best to Malians fighting back against these crazy extremists who would destroy a fundamental joy as well as important cultural traditions.
posted by smirkette at 9:26 AM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Music is life. Anybody who suppresses the former doesn't deserve the gift of the latter.
posted by Aquaman at 9:41 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Against all musicians? Then you guys best be prepared for about 10 lbs of Les Paul upside your collective heads. Not to mention what the drummers do with their gong mallets, which is (I understand) unspeakable.

I hate these cretins. There's no excuse for this attempted destruction of our shared cultural legacy. Don't like music? Then lead your joyless life wandering in the Sahara and leave everyone else alone.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:44 AM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by klausness at 10:12 AM on December 1, 2012


I think writing songs about these assholes would be an excellent Mefi Music challenge.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:13 AM on December 1, 2012


Say, does Mali have any oil?
posted by slater at 10:22 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


"He asked the soldiers who were assigned to protect him to leave him be and let him roam around the town freely or go and drink tea out on the dunes. But I wondered if I wasn't a bit mad myself to let him do that. I mean, Bono, kidnapped! Imagine that."

On one hand they're destroying Mali's rich musical culture. On the other hand, there's the possibility (grantedly remote) of them kidnapping and beheading Bono.
posted by acb at 10:30 AM on December 1, 2012


In Russia, Pussy Riot does something that would probably get them arrested in any western country and all my friends' facebook feeds are full of pleas to not let artists be opressed.

In Mali, Al-Queda is actively hunting down musicians and not a peep.
posted by thecjm at 10:33 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Woah - just last night while doing a late night youtube Music spree, I stumbled across Tinariwen, a Touuareg group from Mali. Many of them were soldiers in an uprising against the Mali government (seeking an indpendent homeland IIRC). Wikipedia Article about the group

EDIT: Oh! Shit, even more -- I see the article mentions them right off the bat.

One interesting thing is that apparently Khadaffi had attempted to unite the Touareg and train them. I find it interesting that this is going on at the same time that Libya was overthrown. I wonder if there is a connection. Would the survival of Khadaffi have led to some sort of control over the situation? It seems that was more in the past (20+ years ago) than the present, but I wonder if he still had an influence in the region in regards to such matters.

---------
I don't get this. I really don't. Years ago, I wrote a piece on extremists (at the time, I think it was referring to the Taleban, or perhaps it was one of the groups in Iraq) who would suppress music in the name of Islam. The idea is this:

We are made in the image of god. God, the creator spirit. Thus we are creators. Life is motion, activity, joy. Death is stasis, lack of rhythm, pulse or movement. Music is pulse, it is rhythm, it is life. We, the creators of music, are engaged in an act of worship to the creative force more than any suicide bomber which glorifies a god of death, ever could.

It was me being taken up by the power of Kid Koala, Blockhead, Bonobo and Amon Tobin. It was a very transcendent event, and I felt the spiritual connection in that moment.

That is how I see these "Islamists" as children of a god of death, not the creator of life.

(Of course, I use these terms metaphorically, and of course, death IS a part of life)
posted by symbioid at 10:34 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


These assholes' idea of religion is to burn the fruit tree down and make whipping canes out of the gnarled roots. Please don't include them in the same bucket as most other Muslims or religious people.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:35 AM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


In Mali, Al-Queda is actively hunting down musicians and not a peep.

I'm not sure if this is our inherent fear of dark-skinned people or us just giving up when it comes to fighting militant Islam.
posted by tommasz at 10:36 AM on December 1, 2012


I agree with you, Burhanistan. I certainly hold no ill will towards most muslims. I have to argue the point with my mother that if all muslims actually thought the way these extremists did, you'd have a billion people going to war. Such is not the case, and should be strong proof that Islam isn't a "violent religion of conquest" (at least, not in particular, any more than any other religion). Religion, being part of the human experience, contains a variety of views, a prism of experiences and thoughts and manifests itself in contradictory ways. Some quite beautiful, some quite ugly. One should never take the ugly and paint that brush on all that is beautiful.
posted by symbioid at 10:47 AM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find it interesting that this is going on at the same time that Libya was overthrown. I wonder if there is a connection. Would the survival of Khadaffi have led to some sort of control over the situation?

It has been widely posited that the collapse of Libya led directly to the events in Mali and the rest of the Sahara, with Algeria playing particular strategic importance. These articles offer some thoughts and perspectives on the matter:

Two Perspectives on Tuaregs’ Experiences in or Returning from Libya (Sahel Blog)
Smuggling Wars in the Sahara? (al-Wasat)
NATO's Intervention in Libya Was A Mistake (Sahel Blog)
Sahelian Governments Continue to Resist Extraditions to Libya (Sahel Blog)
The coup in Mali: the result of a long-term crisis or spillover from the Libyan civil war? (NOREF)
Ex-Qadhafi Personnel Complicate Life for Mauritania, Too (Sahel Blog)
AQIM’s Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaks out (al-Wasat)

(nb.: I haven't linked to any major Western reports of activity between Libya and Mali because 95% of their reports get it wrong.)
posted by mykescipark at 11:11 AM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


It sucks that these bastards are trying to "kill music" and will make a lot of people suffer in the process. But they can't, of course. They might as well try to outlaw air.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:35 AM on December 1, 2012


...and hot off the presses from Kal Ben Khalid, a/k/a The Moor Next Door: Determining Algiers' Position on an Intervention in Mali.
posted by mykescipark at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


We shouldn't have a war against terror. Terror is a lot of different things to different people and too abstract to fight against.
We should have a war against wahabism (spelling?). They did the same in Afghanistan and everywhere else they spread their evil. They (Wahabis) are fighting against humanity, and humanity should fight back, with education, development and tolerance. But humanity is weakened by it's dependency on Saudi oil....
posted by mumimor at 1:54 PM on December 1, 2012


You can't kill music. You can kill people, and make it look like you've killed music. But the music remains in the ways that people who you do not kill walk, and the way they talk, and work and rest and worship. One cannot do these things without creating music, even if the voice is stifled. Given the least chance, the voice will break out again and yet again.
posted by carping demon at 2:57 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been watching with dismay the goings-on in Mali, and am especially saddened by the fact that music and musicians are being targeted by these insane zealots. Mali is surely one of the most *musical* countries of the world: the varieties of music there are stunningly powerful, blissfully mellow, delicately understated... it will be a great tragedy for the world if we lose the fantastic musicians and brilliant musical culture of that amazing place.

You can't kill music. . . .

Of course I understand the essence of your point, carping demon: music will survive, there will always be music, etc., and while I don't disagree (one couldn't!) I would say that there is, in fact, a whole lot of killing of music that can be accomplished by determined lunatics hell-bent on doing so.

The madman Pol Pot and his brainwashed Khmer Rouge legions also declared war on music and musicians, and they effectively wiped out music in their basket-case country for all practical purposes. That kind of damage cannot be undone, really. Sure, later generations within a country that has seen such devastation will again pick up instruments, raise their voices, etc., but the trajectory that music was on in said country can never be returned to. And yes, that *is* killing music. Not just musicians (to address the distinction you made in your comment), but music itself. I'd like to refer you here to the FPP I made in 2007 on Cambodian music and genocide:

The Sound of Cambodia, pre-Khmer Rouge.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:21 PM on December 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


One of the aesthetic highlights of my short sixty-year span of life on Earth was the night in Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis in 1971 where I saw the drummers and dancers of Mali. With the transcendent polyrhythmic music filling the hall, the bare-breasted dancers were defying the laws of gravity as I had known them up to that point, flying and floating through the air.

My life was changed.

What a crime against nature to stop music and dance, anywhere, anytime, for any reason.

This Allah is not Rumi's Allah. This so-called "Allah" becomes a small-minded, petty, man-made excuse for damning humans to a joyless fearful sexist and sex-hating paradigm, a culture where men can be "all they can be:" violent and stupid and dead inside.
posted by kozad at 4:34 PM on December 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's worth noting, I think, that most of the musicians being persecuted are Muslim.
"They say sharia forbids it," says Rakiatou Wallet Tannal, [...] referring to Islamic law. "That's their sharia, not the sharia of Muslims."

"I'm a Muslim, but Sharia isn't my thing," says Rokia Traoré, one of Mali's most famous international stars. "If I couldn't go up on stage anymore, I would cease to exist. And without music, Mali will cease to exist."

One day, they broke into [Khaira] Arby’s house and destroyed her instruments. Her voice was a threat to Islam, they said, even though one of her most popular songs praised Allah.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:03 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Say, does Mali have any oil?

Not proven, but probably.

There were only four drilled in the Taoudeni Basin, most of them in the 1970s and 1970s, that suggested the potential for some hydrocarbons, the area is so big exploration has been problematic, and the dubious political situation makes exploration difficult given you need to send troops out as often as not.

Total/ENI drilled a few years back with no obvious (public) success at no small cost, and last I heard (and could find with a quick Google) was that Sonatrach was about to drill a few wells earlier this year close to the border with Algeria.

The paleozoic black shales have high organic contents, and might be fine for shale oil, but I doubt anyone's going to rush into that one, aside from the Chinese.
posted by Mezentian at 5:06 PM on December 1, 2012


This Allah is not Rumi's Allah. This so-called "Allah" becomes a small-minded, petty, man-made excuse for damning humans to a joyless fearful sexist and sex-hating paradigm

A lot like some Christian's version of God. Hopefully they never realize this and join forces.
posted by fshgrl at 8:27 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Flapjax: (author of many, many wonderful posts, whose musical judgement I would only very carefully question, and am not here) a whole lot of killing of music that can be accomplished by determined lunatics hell-bent on doing so.

I've no argument with your description of what Pol Pot did. I remember it (from the viewpoint of a safe American, thank God.) It took several years for me to believe all of it. And your general point, which seems to be that if you kill enough people you can kill culture has been demonstrated by many, e.g. Ghengis Kahn and Joseph Stalin.

But, I don't think that is what they are facing in Mali. Compared to Campodia, Mali is huge. 500,000 sqm compared to 70,000 sqm. The volume and variety of music from Mali is astounding (which is not so say that Cambodian music was less so). Tinariwen and the Troares barely scratch the surface. And they are at the mercy, not of a despot who was kin to Stalin or even Ghengis in effective power and resources, but of a relatively small bunch of hysterical fundamentalist Islamists, against whom they have many allies in the rest of the world.

To put it crudely, I don't believe they can kill enough people to threaten the culture. (It's hard to imagine anyone telling a Tuareg not to play the guitar. Or not to do anything.) Which leads to my point. The Taleban, for instance, can silence some people in some places, but they can not wreak the destruction that Pol Pot did. Unlike Pol Pot, who was secure in his kingdom and had little real opposition, the Taleban and their fellow fundamentalists are hounded, and can't stay in one place too long. As soon as they leave, the music will pop back up. I don't argue with your political points, or your musicological experience, but I don't think the comparison between the Khmer Rouge and the fundamentalist extremists of one of the world's largest religions gives music in Mali the chance it really has.
posted by carping demon at 8:31 PM on December 1, 2012


For those looking to see the its sword of America make the world safe for ethnic music be aware that the US and France have been hard at work with the African Union, the UN and ECOWAS to organize a military response. 3200 AU soldiers backed by the French Foreign legion and Us air power and logistics are on the way to make the world safe for Paul Simon to steal like Eddie Brickell from those New Bohemians so long ago.
posted by humanfont at 9:39 PM on December 1, 2012


Tinariwen New Yorker article and spotify playist (the same one I posted in the Azawad thread a little while ago.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:09 AM on December 2, 2012


The brilliant Sahel Sounds blog, written by MeFite iamck, is a great place to go for music from Mali and other parts of the Sahel. These two posts are most relevant to this thread. Here's a hopeful bit from the former post:
They tell us there are no musicians here. That they all left with the implementation of Sharia. They tell us to go to Lagos. We play with words and rephrase questions, semantically restrained by our use of the word “musician.” Yes, there are no musicians here but, they tell us, of the kumsa guitarists, the one stringed goje players, the kakaki trumpeters, there are hundreds.
posted by Kattullus at 12:14 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Extremists out to eradicate indigenous and international culture?

Can we just call them "Daleks" for short?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:29 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


West Africa, specifically Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso, is one of the four regions in the world where I've always wanted to a musical backpacker thing, slumming it out in cheapo hotels and absorb street music just because. Mali's musical heritage is amazing; Tinarawen is a great example, but there has been some amazing sound coming out of the country for years now.

It's a massive shame that all that is now being threatened; like the destruction of Syria's Ottoman heritage and ethos, this is a tragedy that didn't exist only a few months back, and yet is unfolding right before our eyes. Extremely sad.
posted by the cydonian at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


In Russia, Pussy Riot does something that would probably get them arrested in any western country and all my friends' facebook feeds are full of pleas to not let artists be opressed.

In Mali, Al-Queda is actively hunting down musicians and not a peep.


A government, however corrupt, may eventually bow to public pressure. Not sure what effect Facebook posts would have on Al-Queda, even indirectly.

It's worth noting, I think, that most of the musicians being persecuted are Muslim.

Indeed. Good luck telling a Sufi there's no room for music in Islam.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:28 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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