Islamic extremists have banned music in Mali, but its world famous musicians wont give up without a fight. They Will Have To Kill Us First tells the story of Malis musicians, as they fight ...
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Islamic extremists have banned music in Mali, but its world famous musicians wont give up without a fight. They Will Have To Kill Us First tells the story of Malis musicians, as they fight for their right to sing.
With a specially commissioned soundtrack from some of Malis most exciting artists, the film features musicians: Khaira Arby, Fadimata Disco Walet Oumar, Malian superstar Amkoullel, Moussa Sidi and introducing Songhoy Blues.
Music is the beating heart of Malian culture, but when Islamic jihadists took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law in history: They banned all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and Malis musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, Malians revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile where most remain, even now. But rather than lay down their instruments, the musicians are fighting back, standing up for their cultural heritage and identity. Throughout ...
This is a wonderful documentary that focuses on Mali's rich music and considers the effects on it after the insurgents attacked Northern Mali in 2012. A Sharia law state was established by the insurgents in two of the main cities, Gao and Timbuktu, and one of their dictates was to ban music. Musicians fled and radio stations and live performances ceased. This film follows four of Mali's performing artists who escaped: the Songhoy Blues, Kharia Arby, Fadimata "Disco" Walet Oumar and Moussa Sidi. The Songhoy Blues and Kharia are from Mali's dominant social group; Disco and Moussa are Touareg. It was the latter group's desire for a separate territory that underpinned the 2012 insurgency. It is important that the film included representatives from both groups as each has suffered and continue to do so. They cling to their hopes for peace and the film's ending seems to conclude that music is an enabler of peace, may be the most important enabler.
The film's background is the musicians' accounts of what happened to them during the conflict; the foreground is their music and how it might promote change. What seems clear is how few of the Malian people want an Islamic state or the jihads in their country, who live still in parts of the Northern territory. This film is an important document therefore in showing another face of Muslims and of Africa itself because any easy and pejorative generalisations about either are challenged by what we are shown. It is hard to be unmoved by the plight of this country and her people and the wonderful music they produce. The moments when we see the artists performing, whether formally at a concert or in private, are amongst the best.
The film brings attention to the desire to rout the extremists out completely. This may not be so easy as a political attempt at reconciliation between the Touaregs and others in 2015 has not settled matters. But where politics fails, music might succeed.
The film will be playing film festivals and hopefully it will attract the attention of distributors. The Songhoy Blues are re-releasing the album, whose music they were creating, recording and performing in the film, next month. Go watch, listen and then buy the music.
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