Rokia Traoré’s thoughts on refugees and colonisation

Rokia Traore in hotel

by Charlie Crooijmans

In the beginning of March singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré from Mali came to Amsterdam to do an exclusive concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. She was touring round Europe to present her wonderful new album ‘Né So’. At my work at VPRO Vrije Geluiden (Dutch cross media music channel), I am coordinating a group of young people who are thinking about alternative ways to present music and musicians. One of them, the animator Wisse Beets, wanted to do an interview with Rokia without asking her any questions. Instead, he showed her some drawings she could reflect on, with which he made an animation (see below). Her thoughts on a drawing of a half sinking boat full of people were so profound, I decided to transcribe them for News and Noise! Continue reading


The people of Super 11 are in distress – an interview with MPS Pilot

Super 11 and Horst Timmers, photo: Wilbert Corts	by Charlie Crooijmans

The war in Mali brings a lot of  instability and poverty for many people. For the nomadic people like the Tuareg, the situation is even more complicated as we saw in the interview with Ousmane Ag Mossa of Tamikrest on News and Noise! This is also the case for the group Super Onze (or Super 11) from Gao, who is unlike Tinariwen, Tamikrest and others, unknown outside of Mali. They play just one rhythm, Takamba, on traditional instruments like the calebash and the n’goni. But the way they do it is amazingly raw and virtuoso. One of the most adventurous DJ’s in Holland MPS Pilot, aka Horst Timmers – active in the ‘cutting-edge World Music scene’ – got fascinated by Super 11 and found a way to work together with the group. Recently he released their second album on his label Two Speakers. I asked him some questions about how they met, their collaboration and how the situation in Mali affects Super 11.

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Singing is a way to resist – an interview with Rokia Traoré

Rokia Traore at Babel Med, photo: CCby Charlie Crooijmans

Even though there will be elections in Mali on 28 Juli, the situation remains insecure and dangerous. Lots of Malian musicians are touring around the world. Not only because they are very successful, but they also need to spread the message of solidarity and unity. One of those artists is Rokia Traoré. She was at the Babel Med 2013 to receive an award and to participate in a conference about Music in Resistance with Olev Reitov (Freemuse), Mariem Hassan, and Gennardo de Rosa (Musica Contre le Maffia). At one moment she was saying something about women in polygamous marriages who expresses themselves through singing. There wasn’t much time for her to elaborate on this subject, but afterwards she found a moment in her tight schedule to tell me more about it.

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“It is the music that bonds us, not the politics” – an interview with Ousmane Ag Mossa

by Charlie Crooijmans and Hatim Suleiman

– Utrecht. On the 31st of January the Sahara Soul ‘caravan’ with Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba and Tamikrest (without Sidi Touré) ended up at the world music venue Rasa in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Before the press conference with Bassekou Kouyaté started, we spoke to Ousmane Ag Mossa of the Tuareg group Tamikrest. The Sahara Soul project stands for solidarity and unity of Mali. Bassekou is a great proponent of this, but Ousmane explains to us that the situation is much more complicated.

Bassekou Kouyate en Ousmane Ag Mossa

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The meaning of Tinariwen

by Bram Posthumus

Dakar – Mali looks like two countries, at least for the time being. One part, in the South, lost its elected government in a coup d’état on March 22, in which president Amadou Toumani Touré was chased from the power he was going to relinquish anyway in April. The soldiers have since agreed to hand power back to a civilian interim leader, before presidential elections are held. In theory.

The other part, in the North, has seen the departure of the Malian army, handing most of the territory to an armed Tuareg rebellion. This is an old phenomenon. Tuaregs tolerate others on their patch but they don’t like people interfering with their lives. This the French found out, who were faced with an armed rebellion as far back as 1894 and again in 1916.

Taking its cue from the former colonial power, the Malian government continued crushing Tuareg uprisings, for instance in 1963. Here’s the video of the Tinariwen song dealing with that event:

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