I would like to offer a recommendation as I look out of the window onto melting snow.
While you are reading blogs and doing your emails or whatever it is you claim to be doing when you are in front of your computer click on the Youtube link below and leave this music running in the background. Feel the warm heat of the desert blues blow over you, soak up the magical music of Mali.
And as you do so now consider that music is now banned in two thirds of the country that can make a reasonable case to be the birthplace of the blues.
Reflection on the music was particularly provoked recently because the Glastonbury Festival which has featured a lot of African music in recent years announced a couple of weeks that Rokia Traoré will be its first act this year and now a group of Malian artists have got together to release a peace record.
I know very little of the regional politics of the area but for years I have really enjoyed the sounds of Malian artists such as Miriam and Amadou so I find it a real shock to imagine music being supressed in the country and it makes me even more angry to feel that this should be done in the name of any religion.
The world cannot afford to lose this music. If you happen to click on a link and enjoy the sounds I hope you might be inspired to buy some music or forward a link to some music lovers and help keep it alive.
All credit to the journalists of the Guardian who have really made an effort to keep the story of the music alive. To get a feel for the whole range of Malian music and the political context read some of these articles.
Music is vital to political struggle across Africa – not just in Mali
Banning music in Mali is outrageous, not least because it’s crucial to the country’s wellbeing “The banning of music is hideous anywhere, but in Mali of all places it seems somehow sacrilegious”
Ian Birrell today – 27th January
Music is central to Mali’s identity – and yet the conflict there has led to it being widely banned. Here, African and western artists pick their favourite tracks from this most musical of nations
Fatoumata Diawara gathers Malian supergroup to record peace song
Group calling themselves Voices United for Mali, featuring Amadou and Mariam, Oumou Sangaré, Bassekou Kouyaté, Vieux Farka Touré, Toumani Diabaté and many others, release song called Peace in response to country’s troubles
Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music
Islamist militants are banning music in northern Mali, a chilling proposition for a country where music is akin to mineral wealth