Mali: Music festival cancelled due to attacks

Northern Mali’s Festival au Désert was set to return to Timbuktu on 28 January 2017 after having been in exile since 2012, but Malian officials decided to block it after suicide bombers attacked a military camp in Gao on 18 January 2017, killing 77 people and injuring more than 100 others, reported The Guardian on 30 January 2017.

“It really was a dilemma. Everyone was on the road, we were ready to go – to brave the risk,” festival director Manny Ansar told The Guardian. “The festival left Timbuktu because music was forbidden. It was very important for everyone that it should go back. All the artists I contacted wanted to go. It was the message that was important.”

Festival organisers were planning the return of the festival in secret and decided they would go ahead with it depsite the attacks two weeks prior, but city officials decided they didn’t want the risk.

The world-famous festival, which began in 2001, featured traditional Tuareg music and music from other parts of the world. The last festival took place in 2012 and has not been able to return to northern Mali due to Islamic extremists placing a ban on music and the continued insecurity of the area stemming from armed conflicts.

The Festival au Désert received the 2013 Freemuse Award. The award was presented to Ansar at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Photo: Festival au Désert 2012/Wikicommons


» The Guardian – 30 January 2017
Mali cancels return of famous music festival after al-Qaida attack

» Journal du Mali – 27 January 2017
Festival in the desert: Report for the umpteenth time 

» Global Voices – 10 January 2017
Is insecurity threatening cultural growth in Mali?

More from Freemuse

» 14 December 2015: Mali: Three years after the music ban

» 17 June 2013: Freemuse Award presented to Festival au Desert

» 10 January 2013: Mali: Music festival exiled to Burkina Faso

» 25 October 2012: Mali: The day the music stopped