Africa Passes Through Glastonbury: Rokia Traoré, Fatoumata Diawara and Others

Africa, largely Mali, passed through Glastonbury over the course of last week. The famed UK festival featured heavyweights such as the Rolling Stones who appeared for the first time ever and the Oasis’s Noel Callagher. These indiciduals shared their star presence alongside African household names such as French-Malian Fatoumata Diawara and her fellow Malian Rokia Troare. Diawara and Traore are two of a number of Malian artists who where invited to showcase and their acts at the Somerset staged interview.

Watch a video of Fatoumata Diawara performing Sowa on a side platform.

Fatoumata and Rokia followed in the footsteps of Malian legends, Slai Keita, Ali Farka Toure and Amadou and Mariam, and also Nigerian icon Fela Kuti. Glastonbury organisers are said to have felt that they needed to give Malian musicians a voice after Islamic militants had banned circular music in favour of Quaranic chantic during nationwide unrest last year. This does not undermine the fact that Malian musicians are extremely talented and have a worldwide appeal which spans across several European countries.

Fatoumata dedicated her last song onstage to all children in the world, particularly in her native Mali, peace and love during her vibrant barefooted performance. Although dressed she was dressed in an ankle length dress, she also managed to give the very largely Caucasian crowd an awe-inspiring African dance lesson. See a snippet of Fatoumata’s performance below;

Rokia Traore also did her thing and she can be seen in the video below as she performed alongside Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. Africa sure has talent, but maybe our politics and sometimes extreme cultural values tend to hold us back.

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