All Around This World’s exploration of Africa includes sing-along, dance-along classroom and homeschool lessons about Mali for kids . . . Meet the world through music –“come to class” with Jay.
A thousand or so years ago, the Malian Empire was home to the strategically significant and enviably profitable trans-Saharan trade route. A succession of global powers, eager to control the route, conquered Mali, from the Songhai to the Moroccans to the French. Mali became independent in 1960 but fell under the thumb of a series of one-party rulers. A coup in 1991 ushered in the current era of democratic, multi-party elections, and relative political stability, until 2012 when a Tuareg succession and another military coup brought back instability, enabling Islamic Fundamentalists to assert control over the North. Great music remains a constant, and Malians continue to sing, even in the face of persecution by Islamic fundamentalist leaders in the aftermath of the northern rebellion.
— MUSIC: Musicologists and music-lovers alike revere Mali as “the birthplace of the blues.” That it may be, but it’s also much more . . .
— LANGUAGE: While there are 40 active languages in Mali, and while French is the main colonial language, about 80% of Mailians are able to communicate in Bambara . . .
— IMAGES: Flickr’s Malian slideshow features Tuareg nomads traversing the Sahara, devout Malian Muslims bowed in prayer and a funky series of photos of musician Boubacar “Kar Kar” Traore wearing a really funky suit . . .
— WHEN YOU GO THERE: Lonely Planet’s entry on Mali suggests many ways to approach the country as an independent traveler . . .