Timbuktu: A Film Review

A few months ago I watched Abderrahmane Sisako’s Timbuktu, as part of a retrospective of Sissako’s work at the Walker Art Museum.It stunned me at the time—the film examines how daily life changes in a Malian community where an al-Qaeda group has taken over. While the film focuses primarily on a young family’s tribulations when a murder is committed, the film explores how mundane, everyday situations under ordinary circumstances can suddenly become a minefield when the new impositions are not … [Read more...]

“Islamists Do Not Want Anyone To Sing”

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 thi … [Read more...]

Fashion as Resistance: The Case of Mali

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post discussing the attempt among Muslim leaders in Russia to prove that Russian Muslim women are modern and fashionable, unlike Muslims elsewhere. Soon after, fashion made headlines again, this time in the case of Mali, with Yahoo! News reporting on Darkar Fashion Week 2012.The event, which takes place in Senegal, has been attracting designers from all over Africa for the past ten years. The event has been reported to attempt to bring Africa forward in the … [Read more...]

Khaira Arby, The “Nightingale of Mali”

“My voice is a gift from God.” Khaira Arby in an interview with Steve Hochman for Spinner.Reading through a list of upcoming acts at my local music venue, I came across a woman whose name I hadn’t heard of before—Khaira Arby. Intrigued, I clicked on her act to learn more about her.Singing in four languages, Arby hails from Mali and performed in March at the SXSW music festival. Her latest album, Timbuktu Tarab (translated as “Timbuktu my land”), was released in 2010 to critical acclaim. In Ma … [Read more...]


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