FIWA 2019 – Rhythms in the bush, the making of an African village festival

The story was carried in a national daily –


I have long been looking for a chance to visit musically and culturally rich Mali ever since my first time there over 16 years ago. That time it was primarily for the Festival au desert in the Sahara and to travel around the country covering other attractions. Having known Oumou Sangare for over 25 years, from the time she started making huge splash in the world music circuit, I have been asking her if she was planning a lavish wedding for her only son when I came to know of the engagement. I was thinking that would make up for the lost opportunity on the day I flew out of Mali on my earlier visit when she had a family wedding and sang herself too. Eventually, her son settled for a simple register-office ritual, momentarily ending my Mali dream and of indulging in an African wedding. But I couldn’t ask for more when Oumou organised her own festival this year, from the sands of Sahara last time to the bush this time around was well worth the wait.

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About three years ago, Oumou Sangare decided to do something special in her parched ancestral village. She started planning to hold her own music festival by bringing musicians of international repute. This is to provide entertainment to the villagers and more so to inspire young talents in the villages who otherwise have limited means to get exposed to opportunities. With a huge fan base worldwide, she needed to have a place of comfort for the visitors. The first edition of the festival had a successful run, right next to a sprawling encampment of 40 roundly huts fashioned on an African village. About 150,000 people had a blast in the bush for two days.


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