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Mali's Ancient Manuscripts

Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West ­Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Apr 21, 2014 - 12 comments

“Western culture is Islamically forbidden”

When the car exploded, the same two words occurred to him, and to the ticket taker, and to every other person who saw or heard the blast, which could be heard on the other side of Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city: Boko Haram. That neither they, nor practically anyone else in Nigeria, knew what Boko Haram was exactly or why it would want to bomb a bus station was beside the point. Officially, according to the Nigerian government, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule. “Boko Haram” is a combination of the Hausa language and Arabic, understood to mean that Western, or un-Islamic, learning is forbidden. In 2009, after Yusuf was killed [BBC, The Guardian]—executed, it’s all but certain, by Nigerian police—his followers vowed revenge.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 27, 2013 - 34 comments

bonne écoute

Les disques africains collects, rips, and uploads out-of-print records (and their sleeves!) from the golden age of vinyl in francophone Africa. Don't miss la belle chanteuse Sali Sidibé, psychedelic grooves from Benin, or this incredible 35-minute oral-musical history of Bobo-Dioulasso. New posts appear, as if by some rare magic, every three to four days.
posted by theodolite on Aug 5, 2013 - 15 comments

Crossing the "Red Line"?

Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 2, 2013 - 289 comments

A story about a library on fire.

Saving the ancient manuscripts of Mali from Islamic extremists.
posted by seanmpuckett on Feb 5, 2013 - 34 comments

So...........here we go again?

Jihad in the Sahara. It is no suprrise that Mali is the latest Muslim country to experience western Intervention. This has resulted in escalation. The north of Mali is as alien to the average soldier from southern Mali as the Alaskan tundra is to a citizen of Massachusetts or Manchester. This is the land where the local Tuareg or Arab in his souped-up turbo 4x4 is king. A map of the various conflicts. In October a der Spiegel journalist spent 2 weeks in the north of the country and in November CS Monitor asked Will Mali be Africa's Afghanistan?
posted by adamvasco on Jan 18, 2013 - 75 comments

"We are not only against the musicians in Mali. We are in a struggle against all the musicians of the world.”

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. [more inside]
posted by Pallas Athena on Dec 1, 2012 - 32 comments

What the desert couldn't take in a thousand years, man took in a day.

We've discussed developments in the breakaway Azawad region in Northern Mali here before. The two factions which composed the Azawad government, the nationalist MNLA and the Islamist Ansar Dine broke their alliance, with Ansar Dine now controlling all of the major settlements within the recently declared Awazad. Their treatment of the ancient Muslim shrines of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has not been kind. If this reminds you of another recent act of destruction against our shared cultural heritage, well, you're not alone. [more inside]
posted by 1adam12 on Jul 1, 2012 - 28 comments

"Hail, Hail, Azawad, land of the brave and free

Meet Azawad, Africa’s Newest Country Azawad is an area about the size of Texas located in the northern half of Mali. On April 6 2012 National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), after they were able to force Mali forces out of the territory they now claim as an independent state. Whether they can remain an independent country is a question that time will tell. Also whether they will be a secular Berber, pro-Western nation or an Islamist Emirate is another question that has many watching the area. [more inside]
posted by 2manyusernames on Apr 14, 2012 - 30 comments

Sublime Freeclimb

"The man in the saffron robe accompanying Catherine to her starting point is a witch doctor who's modernized. Under his robe he's got a jazz trumpet. He's going to blow a magic cadenza or two to bless her on her way"

...one of the ancient burial chambers of the Tellen Pygmies; although some of the skeletons she notes are more recent than that, the sort of place for a failed freestyle climber, perhaps."


Catherine Destivelle's gravity-defying freeclimb of Mali's Bandyagara (SLYT)
posted by obscurator on Jul 11, 2011 - 39 comments

woa

Seydou Keïta, self taught Malian portrait photographer, shot some of the most renowned portraiture of 1940 - 1960's Bamakan society. [more inside]
posted by iamck on Nov 4, 2010 - 13 comments

All aboard for the Africa Express

A preview version of a 20-minute film following Damon Albarn as he and other western musicians (including Franz Ferdinand and Fatboy Slim) travel to Mali, Nigeria and Congo as part of the Africa Express, a sprawling musical collective collaboration between Africans (including Toumani Diabate, Baaba Maal and Tony Allen) Americans and Europeans. The film includes a visit and concert at The Shrine for last year's Felabration. [more inside]
posted by criticalbill on Jun 19, 2009 - 4 comments

Out of Africa

Out of Africa. As award-winning Globe and Mail Africa correspondent Stephanie Nolen bids farewell to a place she's come to love, she reflects on how it has changed, and how it changed her. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 16, 2008 - 4 comments

Do you have a little chocolate craving?

A brief history of chocolate slavery: That Chocolate is an oligopoly might surprise a few people. Chocolate's Bittersweet Economy (pdf) shows that seven years after the industry had agreed to abolish child labour, little progress has been made. Cross-border Migration of Working Children has still been left out of Harkin-Engel Cocoa Protocol Process. Bitter Chocolate Reflects on the politics of cocoa and chocolate. With Halloween approaching you might consider a Fair Trade approach to Trick or Treat. (If Chocolate slavery doesn't make you throw up a little maybe this will.)
posted by adamvasco on Oct 1, 2008 - 26 comments

music videos from West Africa

#1 African Music Website. Africa Hit offers an extensive and varied selection of great music videos from West Africa. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Dec 31, 2007 - 11 comments

sisters are doin' it for themselves.

Africa. Some women drumming. Some women dancing. [courtesy of the YouTubes]
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 6, 2007 - 21 comments

An uncommon vacation.

Judy's tour diary (pdf, somewhat long) isn't your standard travelogue. The author is Judy Porter, a professor of sociology from Bryn Mawr Collge. Her expertise in the fields of AIDS and poverty are apparent as she paints a vivid picture of life in West Africa, and the health and social conditions that come with it. She also set up a web page that has links to a number of photo slide shows and hand shot video footage. West Africa has been extensively discussed previously.
posted by The Straightener on Mar 16, 2007 - 6 comments

Timbuktu Sings the Blues

Malian bluesman and Ry Cooder collaborator Ali Farka Touré has died at age 66 (or maybe 67). Through his music, and especially his collaborative projects with Western musicians, Touré convincingly made the case that the rhythms and melodies of the Delta blues came straight from Mali and neighboring countries.
posted by kcds on Mar 7, 2006 - 33 comments

did we see it go by??

the first African sponsored World Social Forum has just come to an end... images (in French)
posted by pwedza on Jan 22, 2006 - 6 comments

Mali gets nothing for its grain

The failure of biotech. "In June 1996, the University of California, Davis, began an unprecedented effort to help the West African nation of Mali, using the promising and controversial new tool of agricultural biotechnology... Eight years later, no help whatsoever has arrived... In the hopes that inspired the effort - and the missteps that stifled it - lies a drama larger than the sum of its parts, one that shows both the promise and pitfalls of the largest technological leap in American agriculture since the tractor: biotechnology." The start of a five-part series in the Sacramento Bee: long, but well worth it. (Via MonkeyFilter.)
posted by languagehat on Jun 6, 2004 - 17 comments

The Dogon of Mali

The beautiful and complex culture of the Dogon tribe of Mali... they may have had advanced astronomical knowledge long before their European counterparts. Particularly, their tribe has had a long mystical association with Sirius, leading some to speculate that their ideas had phenomenal roots. Regardless of the mystery, the tribe is also well known for it's amazing masks and intricate art.
posted by moonbird on Oct 20, 2003 - 9 comments

Rail Bands and Super Motels

A history of Malian pop music. Confused by the interlocking names and associations of the stars of West African music? This lively account by Lisa Denenmark should help (and a follow-up is promised). Via the indispensible Afropop Worldwide.
posted by languagehat on Mar 20, 2003 - 20 comments

Eight hundred years ago,

Eight hundred years ago, the Empire of Mali was the West African equivalent of Byzantium (succeeding Ghana's Rome), and its legendary founder was Sundiata. [more]
posted by languagehat on Nov 11, 2002 - 9 comments

"I think that first world environmental groups

"I think that first world environmental groups (who oppose development of genetically modified crops) should put on the hat and shoes of farmers in Mali who are faced by repeated crop failure." -- Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, lead author of the U.N. Development Programme's annual Human Development Report. (Here's another report on the same issue which includes a great deal of background information about the problems which still need to be solved, and why genetic modification of food crops is an essential part of the solution.)
posted by Steven Den Beste on Jul 12, 2001 - 35 comments

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