Manny Ansar, festival director and co-founder of Mali’s world famous ‘Festival au Désert’, received the Freemuse Award on 3 June 2013 at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The award ceremony took place in connection with a UN session on the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity featuring artists and human rights advocates. At the session, Manny Ansar and Freemuse executives spoke on the situation in Mali and artistic freedom in general. The session was hosted by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, who launched her report ‘The right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity’ to the public.
The Freemuse Award 2013 was given to ‘Festival au Désert’, which in spite of extreme Islamists’ attempts to silence all music in Mali, defends freedom of musical expression and struggles to continue keeping music alive in the region. After the ceremony, a representative of the Malian permanent mission to the UN took the floor and thanked Manny Ansar for his work and spoke on the importance of the festival.
Continues in exile
Due to the current conflict in Mali, the Desert Festival was cancelled this year but struggles to continue in exile. When notified about the Freemuse Award, Manny Ansar said: “While extremist forces may attempt to divide and silence our communities, the cultural heritage that lives and weaves between us, will always overcome. With your generous support, we will continue to spread our international message of tolerance and plurality in exile, until we are able to return home to Timbuktu in peace.”