After some minor technical issues in December I have had to overcome some major computer challenges this past week. So there has been a break in my posts. Luckily everything seems to be in perfect working order now (touch wood), so you can expect the usual steady stream of posts to continue.....
This is the start of new series of posts featuring some of stars of the donso ngoni (litt.: hunter's guitar) music of Mali.
It is not completely unintentional that I am starting this series with a cassette by Yoro Sidibé. Because I would also like to draw your attention to the good work done by Jack Carneal and his Yaala Yaala label. I strongly sympathise with his mission "to release this music ( ... ) that you might hear if you were wandering yourself among the cassette stalls in Bougouni, Bamako, Kolondieba, Sikasso, Segou, Fez, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dakar."
A lot of mystery surrounds the hunters in West-Africa, and even more tradition. Like the blacksmiths (numu) the hunters often form (secret) societies, with their symbols and rituals. The ngonifo (ngoni player) plays an important part in confirming the status of the hunters and perpetuating the tradition. Often the donso is from a numu family (Koné, Fané, etc.) and therefore combines two strong traditions.
Yoro Sidibé is from a Fula or Peul family from the village of Bambala, in the Sikasso region south of Bamako and very near the Guinean border. He comes from a long line of hunters, and his great-grandfather is said to have stopped Samory Touré from entering into the village of Bambala. Yoro Sidibé was born in the 1940s, and has established himself as a teacher of the music and its traditions.
The cassette I am posting here is from a brilliant series released by Siriman Diallo. The cassette is undated but I suspect the recordings were made in the early 1990s. The quality of this cassette is astounding, as is the quality of the music.