Some of Mali’s biggest artists have composed a song for peace in a country where the army, backed by French troops, is battling to drive out Islamist extremists occupying the vast desert north.
The seven-minute song is titled “Mali Ko” (‘For Mali’ in the local Bambara language). It features about 40 artists, including five from northern Mali which has been under the control of jihadist rebels since April.
It was released on Thursday night in Bamako.
Music is deeply ingrained in Malian culture and the country boasts some of Africa’s best loved singers.
In the Islamist-occupied zone, hardline sharia law has been imposed and music banned for months.
“It is time for us artists to speak about our Mali. Malians, let us join hands because this country is not a country of war,” one singer croons.
“What’s happening in Mali? Don’t forget that we are all of the same blood.”
Well-known Ivorian singer Tiken Jah Fakoly also collaborated on the composition, along with big names such as Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate and Fatoumata Diawara.
“Malians are very worried today. We are busy losing our own country. We are very very concerned about not being able to sing in our own country because not only are women being raped, beaten and mistreated in the north, but now they want to prevent us from making music, knowing that music is the soul of Mali,” Diawara told AFP.
Mali’s drawn out crisis took a dramatic turn last week when the Islamists headed into the government-held south, prompting former colonial power France to launch an air and ground assault to drive them back.