January 10, 2014


Perhaps you have been wondering why I haven't posted a eulogy to the late Taby Ley Rochereau. Or why I haven't commented on the death of Nelson Mandela. And what are my feelings at the death of prolific producer Ibrahima Sylla?
I certainly have opinions about all of these, but in the case of the first and the last this is not the time to express these. And in the case of Madiba: what can I add that has not already been written, by persons far more qualified, far more knowledgeable than me? I simply have nothing new to contribute to the overwhelming sorrow at the death of this inspirational human being.

And those who wondered if this blog had come to an untimely end, or if inspiration or motivation had run out, can rest assured that this is certainly not the case. I was merely getting overworked and simply had neither the time or the physical energy to sit down and spend time sharing the wonderful and ever amazing music of the African and latin continents. Inspiration, passion even - just listening to the music you will know that there is very little chance that this will go away.

In this post I would like to share a cassette by an artist who has featured in this blog before (here and here): Sali Sidibé.
Many of Sali's cassettes are among my favourites from Mali, and this is certainly one of those. It is a somewhat exceptional cassette in that Sali is accompanied not by a 'traditional' ensemble but by a modern orchestra. According to the guitarist Boubacar Diallo the orchestra consisted of members of National Badema (do yourself a favour and listen to their cassette if you have - erroneously - overlooked it). Going by the sound of the orchestra this seems very likely, although I have heard others claim that members of the Rail Band are actually accompanying this great singer from the Wassoulou district in the Sikasso region of Mali.

What makes this cassette really special is the authority with which Sali addresses the people of Mali. She does so talking, and this in itself is part of a long and very respected and respectable tradition in Mali. Ms. Sidibé is dishing out advice on all kinds of issues, and particularly issues which would concern those living in the more rural areas of Mali.
I particularly like her warnings against tasuma , i.e. fire, in the longest track on this cassette, "Anw Ka Jiri Turu". The song starts of with the sokou (probably Zoumana Tereta) imitating the sound of a fire-engine. In the opening line of her (spoken) message to the public Sali gets straight to the heart of the matter: "tasuma magninde" ("fire is no good"). She continues to point out the places where fire can present a serious risk.
In any other country this may sound like kicking in a space where no door has ever been. And I suppose to a lot of Malians too it does sound like she is stating the obvious. But this is also part of her role as a musician. She is confirming the obvious. Fire cán burn you, bush fires cán ruin lifes. So "tasuma maginde". Be careful with fire, think of the risk.

But even you have no idea where Sali Sidibé is talking and singing about this is simply a superb cassette with great music.

ASF 320