Mali is a country well known for its strong musical traditions. In a country where music is viewed as part of a cultural heritage, it is especially used as a means through which history is recorded. Music is considered to be Mali’s “greatest and most important export product”. It is also a tool of resistance. While most of Mali’s popular musicians have been from the southern part of the country, northern Mali holds up as its own. A few of Mali’s most renowned musicians are from the North, and this region is also home to the famous Festival au Desert (currently “in exile”). Music has been banned in the parts of Northern Mali which are currently under the rule of religious extremists.
Earlier this year, in March, a military coup took place in Mali. And although the details were at first confusing, it seems Tuareg secessionists, MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) used the opportunity to make their move and form their long-sought-after separate and independent state, Azawad. At the same time, other groups rose in the turmoil, including the so-called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and a Tuareg splinter hardline Islamic group Ansar Dine who aim to implement a strict code of Sharia in Azawad/Northern Mali. Recently, Ansar Dine, with the support of Al Qaeda, have subdued the Tuareg rebels and secessionists who sought a secular state. [Read more...]