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Malian Musician Ballaké Sissoko Seeks Answers From US Customs Officials Following Broken Kora

'These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace,' says Ballaké Sissoko.

Renowned Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko is seeking answers from customs officials in the US after finding his kora, a West African musical instrument which resembles a harp, in numerous pieces following a US tour.

According to Sissoko, upon arriving in Paris and opening his luggage, he found a leaflet from US customs officials which stated that they had opened the instrument's case for inspection purposes. However, the leaflet said nothing about the disassembly of the instrument itself.

In a statement recently released by the musician, he says:

"The strings, bridge and entire, delicate and complex sound system of amplification has been taken apart. Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance. These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace. In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and silence Mali's great musical heritage. And yet, ironically, it is the USA customs that have in their own way managed to do this."

Sissoko is a contemporary master of the kora who rose to fame in 1999 after featuring on fellow kora player Toumani Diabaté's album "New Ancient Strings". The following year, he then released his debut solo album "Déli" which features his wife and vocalist Mama Draba, among several other musicians.

US customs officials have not yet officially responded to the allegations of having disassembled the instrument.

Meanwhile, many on social media have condemned the act and rallied behind the musician.






Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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