Music: I Am a Torchbearer for My Culture
Zabo delivers a message of unity to his country that will also have you out on the dancefloor grooving to his Malian Afrobeat.
The year has started well for Arouna Coulibaly, better known as Ben Zabo, after he and his band took part in the mammoth Caravane Culturelle pour la Paix tour that took them across the Sahara desert in February.
The griots make that music, it’s their job, not just when people go farming but also when they are hunting and even preparing for battle
Beginning in M’Hamid El Ghizlane, Morocco, where the valley of the Drâa River meets the sand dunes, the caravan would normally continue down to Timbuktu to reach Ségou in Mali for the second leg at the Festival sur le Niger.
But the road is more dangerous these days with the risk of being captured by armed gangs operating in the country’s volatile north.
Mali is still recovering from an armed crisis that began in 2012.
Over the years a number of Malian musicians have used their art to call for peace in the country.
“For us, music is not primarily for listening,” says Zabo. “Music provides a rhythm for work, especially in the field. The griots make that music, it’s their job, not just when people go farming but also when they are hunting and even preparing for battle.