Keepers of Memories

One of my favourite Ubuntu slogans is “In a world without fences and walls, who needs gates and windows?” And Tux looks mighty pleased with himself!

         In a world without fences and walls, who needs gates and windows?!

In Bissamcuttack though, I’ve been forced to use dual boot and windows, as I couldnt get a cisco webex programme to work on Ubuntu. Troubleshooted quite a bit but wasn’t able to sort out the audio. So for the last few months I’ve been using windows as well. With much fear and trembling, as I have completely forgotten about things like anti-virus, start and control panel. However, one good thing actually did come from it – not my machine, but from Ashita’s. Windows Vista has some ‘free’ sample music – and so thanks to Vista, I met the amazing Habib Koité.

         Habib Koité

Koité is from Mali, from a family or 17 brothers and sisters, and says that music washed off on him. His mother was a griot – a story teller, historian, poet and musician, a keeper of memories. Western Africa is a bit of a blob in my head, despite looking at maps for my mom’s numerous trips to Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and earlier this year, Liberia. And the top is actually closer to Morocco!

         West Africa – Mali

So take a look at Mali. Like most African countries, it has nice geometric sides, sliced off on paper rather than being divided by river or mountain. The stories and debates of self-determination in nearby Western Saharan and Mauritania are legendary (not in the way Barney would say it!) in Human Rights Law. So I imagine that Mali has a similar history. The gospel according wikipedia says 36.5% of the population is Bambara and 80% of people communicate in it. Koité sings in Bambara, French and English. Ooohh…and of course, it’s home to ‘Timbuktu’ or Tombouctou District in the North. My limited knowledge of Timbuktu is from Tintin and Santa’s using Zebras now trivia, but it was also the gateway to the Sahara – a centre of great learning and knowledge, home to the famous Sankore Madarasa. It definitely seems worth a trip and a post!

So that’s a little about where he’s from. And here are some of the youtube links that I enjoyed. Including Din Din Wo  (which is what Vista popularised, this link is to a live version, so the sound isn’t great but it gives you a great feel), Batoumambe, my favourite right now, and Cigarette Abana (some people I know would do well learning from that one – you know who you are! His last bits in English sound almost mallu!)

I love the sounds of the guitar, drums, calabash, and the amazing balafon.


And what’s even more amazing to realise that I have been talking and walking with griots in the Mal khond hills. K is visiting home from Bissamcuttack, and my wonderful African-born aunts had him singing Kuvi songs – of the elderly, of courtship, of welcome. Some day maybe we’ll have Ubuntu spreading the sounds of the dunduki and gho-o-di. Until then, enjoy Habib Koité and Bamada!! 


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