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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.






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Photo by Daniel Beloumou Olomo / AFP

AFCON 2021: Ranking the Best Jerseys at the Tournament

Despite skepticism on the fate of Africa’s biggest football competition, the African Cup of Nations returned with great fanfare on Sunday, January 9. All eyes are on host country Cameroon, who started their campaign to win the tournament for the sixth time by beating Burkina Faso.

Elsewhere, Nigeria’s Super Eagles triumphed over Egypt with a solitary goal from Kelechi Iheanacho. A total of 24 countries are competing in Cameroon, incentivized by a prize money that’s been bumped up $500,000 since the last edition in 2019.

But AFCON isn’t just about cash payouts, dribbles and goals. Once again, it’s time to look at which African country is parading the best kits. Football and fashion are two worlds that have always collided. Over the years kits have been updated or revised to look modern. What makes a good kit? This is a complex question, and interwoven in the answer are simplicity, clever design, style, or just elements of nostalgia. As superficial as this exercise is, its implication is sweetly in the bragging rights.

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