I don’t know if any of you are aware, but right now in northern Mali, the cities of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao are controlled by extreme fundamentalist Islamist groups, who among other measures,are prohibited the playing of music.
In a country who’s culture is deeply rooted in a glorious proliferation of music making, this has to be one of the darkest travesties.
"Music regulates the life of every Malian," adds Cheich Tidiane Seck, a prolific Malian musician and producer. "From the cradle to the grave. From ancient times right up to today. A Mali without music? No … I mean … give me another one!"
The ban comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life. Militiamen are cutting off the hands and feet of thieves or stoning adulterers. Smokers, alcohol drinkers and women who are not properly attired are being publicly whipped. As one well-known Touareg musician from Kidal says: "There’s a lack of joy. No one is dancing. There are no parties. Everybody’s under this kind of spell. It’s strange."
I can’t help thinking of the parallel between the Fascist movement in Germany in the 1940’s, when contemporary culture was essentially forbidden. All forms of forward thinking expression were prohibited, in art, theatre, and literature. People lived in fear of heinous reprisals if they stepped anywhere off the statutory line.
Deeply troubling to see this kind repression taking hold.