Featured

Okayafrica TV: Tinariwen And The Fight For Freedom

[embed width="620"][/embed]


Note: The situation in Mali, to put it colloquially, is a mess. To be real: the depth and complexity of the conflict supersedes our ability to summarize it with the nuance it deserves. Below is our humble attempt, but for a clear and thoughtful explanation of the issues, check out Gregory Mann's piece in Foreign Policy.

A military coup last month, led by mid-level army officers, interrupted what would have been regularly scheduled, democratic presidential elections; the president at the time of the coup,  Amadou Toumani Touré, was stepping down on April 29, 2012, barely a month away.  The military junta, which now calls itself the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR),  was unhappy with the sitting president because of mismanaging the 2012 Tuareg Rebellion  - a continuation of a conflict dating back to 1916 between the Tuareg people and the Malian government - which led to demoralizing military defeats in the North of Mali.

Ironically however, the destabilization caused by the coup allowed for several rebel factions to take over parts of northern Mali, an area that has now been declared by the rebels as the sovereign state of Azawad (although this hasn't been recognized by the international community). Whether or not a Tuareg free-state in the north is good or bad, the fear is that the general unrest has helped radical Islamist groups, such as Ansar Dine, establish a foothold in Mali. The coup lasted only three weeks because economic sanctions on Mali by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) forced the reigning military to secede power to an interim government. However, the coup damage has been done, and for the time being Mali has been split into two parts.

Following the coup d'etat in Mali, the well-known Tuareg band Tinariwen publicly voiced their support in favor of the uprising in the North. Tinariwen bassist Eyadou Ag Leche's comments to Belgian public broadcaster VRT supporting the drive for a Tuareg state in Northern Mali, a reflection what he told Okayafrica TV a few months back, just after  Muammar Gaddafi was killed in Libya. Leche expresses an "appreciation" for Gaddafi and all that he provided for the nomadic Tuaregs during periods of drought for example, but admits that Tuaregs didn't have full knowledge of Gaddafi's brutal dictatorship in Libya. Above, Ag Leche explains a side of the conflict not often represented in Western media.

Video shot by Jay Sprogell, French translation by Siddhartha Mitter.

Interview
Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

[Op-Ed] Speeka: “‘Dankie San’ brought me closer to kasi rap”

A personal reflection on one of South Africa's most influential hip-hop albums, 'Dankie San' by PRO.