Mali’s Robust Music Culture

Mali’s Robust Music Culture

There is a nation in west Africa. This nation values music more than many other things. In their culture, they sing daily rituals. Music is important socially, economically, and politically to this nation. Unfortunately, this nation has been nearly crippled from a coup from radical jihadists planning to destroy the identity of Mali starting years ago. Even with low level fighting taking place now, the thing these extremists plan to ban is the music of this nation.


This country is Mali.


How is music important to Mali?

 Music is the heart of the country’s national identity, it values music more than other nations. In Mali, music is part of many daily rituals. In the country, talented musicians known as ‘griots’ sing at funerals, weddings, and birth ceremonies.

 Singing is a big part of daily life at Mali, as well as participating in festivals, ceremonies, and dances. The greatest and most important annual festival in Mali isa musical concert called “Festival au Désert” [“Festival in the Desert]. This festival plays traditional music created by Tuareg. This festival is a very beautiful a vibrant part of their proud, traditional, and beautiful music culture that attracts thousands from other countries mostly before the war.

 What is the most significant city in Mali?

The most significant city in Mali is Bamako, which is the capital of Mali. The biggest University, museum, and zoo are all in this city. But, the city that was especially important in this country is Timbuktu. It was the beginning of the transportation of goods north of the city. The city is also located close to the Niger River so trade thrived there at the west and east branches of the waterway. Today though, it is an extremely poor city.


This city though, had a strong legacy. It has been thriving since the 12th century. It became a learning center with many universities in the 14th century CE. At that time, the ruler of the Mali Empire, Mansa Musa, created historic universities that became hubs for Islamic teachings across Africa.


 At one point, Timbuktu had a 25,000 student university. Slowly, the city has become irrelevant, poor, and a fragment of the past. During the height of the Malian civil war in 2013 when French-Malian troops captured Timbuktu, fires were set which put the nail in the coffin for the city.

Timbuktu ^


Why do radical jihadists want to ban this nations music?


In 2012, The Mali War started which become a continuous battle between northern and southern parts of the country. Extreme groups like Islamic stats are rebellious in the northern area. These jihadist groups want to enforce full Sharia law. This requires them to ban the ancient music that had united the people of Mali (mostly Bambara people) for centuries.


This culture is what the government of Mali tries to actively support and defend. Most people in southern Mali have a same ethnicity and culture, but historically, the northern part of the country has been more diverse with peoples of other belief systems and ethnicities.


Back to blog