Legacy of Toure

The town of Niafounke is alongside the Niger River in Northern Mali. It is notably famous for being the birthplace of Ali Farka Toure, and the tradition of music continues here. The town itself is mostly Songhai (or Sonrai), and the music that we associate with the North, the drumming…

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The Isle of Morfil

Along the border of Senegal and Mauritanian, one finds the ancient kingdom of Fouta Toro - meandering rivers and wide floodplains, covered in scrubby forest and dust, and occasional green patches of irrigated rice and millet. The Isle of Morfil, named for the elephants which have long since vanished, lies…

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Desert’s Guitars

Moudou ould Mattalla is Chinguetti's most well known musician. Originally from Zourate, on the border with Algeria, he lives in the village and shares his knowledge with whoever is passing through. He released a CD that is sold in France, that was recorded in his home. In his "music room,"…

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Chinguetti; Part One

A small town in the rugged interior of Mauritania, an ancient site renowned for its libraries and a caravan trading town for well over a thousand years.Ambient recordingNearly every night, one can hear a distant drumming and chanting. I stumble out in the dark to discover the source. In a…

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Peul’s Boutique

The Peuls are group of historically pastoral people stretching from the Senegal to Cameroon. But the Pulaar culture in Mauritanian is distinctly that of the Senegalese River that defines the border between the two countries. The music of "le fleuve" has been commercially popularized by Baba Maal, and he has…

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a history of hip hop

It's late night, and the crackling radio is broadcasting a Wolof griot.griotNext, an excerpt from an interview I conducted with a young rapper from Cinquieme. He talks about the obstacles to music, government suppression, lack of resources and financial support for the arts. Following, is an A Capella rap in…

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