The Northern part of Mali in West Africa has come under attack repeatedly since 2012, when al-Qaida-linked militants seized two-thirds of the country. French and Malian forces re-took the north in 2013, but the violence continues. This weekend, terrorists launched two separate attacks, killing eight people and injuring more than 20. It was the first-ever attack in Bamako, Mali’s capital, sending the city into shock.
Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown just returned from Mali for a series called “Culture at Risk,” where he reported on the critical role the country’s cultural heritage is playing in the peace process.
On the trip, Jeff visited Bamako, where some of Mali’s top musicians performed a concert calling for an end to the violence. He also explored the ancient, storied city of Timbuktu. Once a crossroads of Islamic scholarship, desert trade and West African music, Timbuktu is still recovering from 10 months of terror under the occupation of militant jihadists who seized the city and imposed a brutal form of Sharia law. They banned any form of artistic expression and destroyed many of the city’s cultural treasures, including mosques, shrines and music studios.
Today, as U.N.-led peace talks progress, Mali’s artists and scholars are joining in the fight for reconciliation and the preservation of the music, art and scholarship at the heart of their country.