Review | By textura
A film and a soundtrack, Mali Blues travels to the heart of West Africa to introduce us to its rich musical culture and four artists in particular, global star-in-the-making Fatoumata Diawara, ngoni player and traditional Griot Bassekou Kouyaté, Malian rapper Master Soumy, and Tuareg musician Ahmed Ag Kaedi. Director Lutz Gregor’s 2016 documentary follows Diawara (known as Fatou) who, having fled Mali as a young woman to escape an arranged marriage, is seen preparing for her first-ever concert performance in the southern Mali city of Ségou at the Festival of the Niger in 2015. In addition to documenting her concert tour, the film shows her meeting with Ahmed Ag Kaedi, who fled his desert home for a different reason: fundamentalists threatening to cut off his fingers. Not only have individuals been threatened but so too has the entire musical heritage of Mali: in 2012, a ban was instituted by radical Islamists that saw radio stations destroyed and musicians forced into exile. []

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