'Return To Timbuktu'

'Return To Timbuktu' is a forthcoming feature-length documentary from filmmaker Michael Meredith about the return of musicians to Mali after the conflict.

It is unusual for music to play a central role in the news headlines about a country in conflict— most of the time, the arts are at best a footnote to a political story. But when Islamist militants took control over Northern Mali in mid-2012, much of the reportage described how the jihadists outlawed music, destroyed instruments and cracked down on those who refused to be silenced. Music is at the very center of Mali’s soul. In the griot tradition, you hear the whispers of what became American blues, and the country continues to be a site of creative innovation that has increasingly spread around the world and captured the attention of seasoned ethnomusicologists and plaid-clad hipsters alike. So when the music was silenced, the country’s soul was crushed.

Director Michael Meredith, a mentee of Wim Wenders (the filmmaker behind Buena Vista Social Club), understood that as well. Driven by the music that has captured so many global imaginations, he traveled to Mali in January 2013 to work with the director of the Festival in the Desert Manny Ansar as a photographer and videographer. January was also the month that French paratroopers began to drop from the sky, adding another layer to an already complex conflict, and the Festival was canceled. Ansar instead organized the Caravan for Peace, which circled the area of conflict and featured Mariam Koné, Khaira Arby, Amanar and others. Meredith documented the trip, the refugee camps in the surrounding areas and made his first trip to Timbuktu. This journey became the beginnings of Meredith’s first documentary film project Return to Timbuktu.

The film is still in production, and Meredith will be traveling to Mali again this year to document the return of musicians to Northern Mali. Whether it will be a triumphant rebirth of the Festival in the Desert or a more fraught homecoming is still unclear, and in many ways will dictate how the story ends. But what is clear is that it will explore, in a way that has not been done before, the power of music in Mali and will feature the likes of Tinariwen, Amanar, Khaira Arby, Vieux Farka Touré, Imarhan Timbuktu, Sidi Touré, Mariam Koné and more.

The production team is raising funds to be able to finish filming in Mali. Head here for details on how to support the project and watch the film's pitch video along with clips with Sidi Touré and Mariam Kone below.


Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wizkid, Alicia Keys x Diamond Platnumz, Manu WorldStar, Maya Amolo, La Dame Blanche and more.