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WATCH: Tinariwen On Mali And Music
Laurie Tuffrey , March 19th, 2013 10:45

Exclusive look at Rachel Ridge and Danny Barnard's short film on Malian music, featuring an interview with Tinariwen's Eyadou Ag Leche

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Following the horrific attacks on Mali's northern regions by Islamist militants last year, Tinariwen's European tour in November took on a significant poignancy. As with fellow Malians Sidi Touré, Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba and Tamikrest's Sahara Soul tour earlier this year, their role became as much spokesmen as musicians. Filmmakers Rachel Ridge and Danny Barnard talked to band member Eyadou Ag Leche, in London last year to receive the best group award at the Songlines Music Awards, touching on their music and its importance for their country in the present moment - watch above.

Introducing the film, Ridge writes: "Exile and Tinariwen know each other well. The Malian band, made up of Tuareg, desert-dwelling nomads, has used hypnotic rhythms, blues guitar and lyrics of poetic protest to lament many years of civil war and refuge. Last year, as the possibility for Tuareg independence drew closer, an unexpected turn of events changed everything. Armed Islamist groups stormed the towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu and declared the land theirs, encasing it under a strict and vengeful Sharia regime. Facing harsh sanctions such as the outlawing of music, singing and dancing, a rich cultural heritage was under serious threat. The independence Tinariwen had so desperately longed for had collapsed and they found themselves, once again, plunged into exile.

"Reluctant to leave their people, Tinariwen went on their European tour determined to tell the world what they were facing. The Songlines music awards, hosted by the Barbican, where they had been awarded best group, was a chance to unravel a very complex and uncertain future for the people of northern Mali..."