Sidikiba Coulibaly plays the simbi, the Mandinka hunter’s harp. “If the simbi dissapears, when there is not one simbi player left in Mande, it will mean the end of the Mande culture. The simbi gives Mande it’s reputation.”

Function of Tradition: This Simbi is played for all major hunter’s ceremonies including initiations, deaths, and important reunions. When played for hunters, the music provokes bravery and incites hunters to perform acts of courage. Simbi players function as griots for hunters, singing their stories and recounting their exploits, reminding people of the role of the hunters throughout the history of Mandé.

Reason for Disappearance:
The youth are not interested, they believe it is not a respectable career path and won’t earn them money. Parents discourage their children from learning the simbi because it is associated with animism and is not Muslim. The society that supported artists like Sidikiba has been in decline for many years. Development and globalization, secular and non-secular, are the latest wave of change affecting tradition lifestyles in Mali.

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Mahmoud Kelly & Afel Bocoum, SANTA, Musee National 2012

An article today in the Washington Post has highlighted the difficulties facing musicians and artists from the North of Mali.  Instruments 4 Africa is on the ground in Bamako helping musicians and artists from the North.  We are 100% volunteer managed organization based in Bamako since 2003.

We are partnering with artists like Afel Bocoum, Baba Salah, and Khaira Arby and organizations like The National Museum of Bamako to support artists to get back on their feet, share their art, while earning a living and keeping the culture alive.

Yesterday, Instruments 4 Africa sponsored eight different musicians who are refugees from the North of Mali to play with Afel Boccum & Alkibar at an event at the National Museum that was sponsored by several embassies and local Malian businesses.  They were joined by: Aboulaye Yattara (Toumbouctou), Mahaman Gassamba (Toumbouctou, Goundam) , MahamadouTelfi Toure (Toumbouctou, Goundam), Thiale Arby (Toumbouctou), Ibrahim Cisse (Niafunke), Ibrahim Nabo (Toumbouctou, Goundam), El Hodj Mahalmadan (Toumbouctou), Leila Gobi (Gao), Masser Maiga (Gao), Sekou Toure (Niafunke).  This was our 5th event this fall to sponsor displaced musicians from the North.

We are continuing to add displaced artists to our database and volunteers are contacting the families to assess their needs.  There is also an emergency fund for medical, school fees, food, etc.  Please feel free to contact us for further information.  When making donations please note “Aid for Northern Artists”.

It’s that time of year for charitable giving.  We are proud to say that 100% of your donations go directly to the girls’ education programs at Instruments 4 Africa.  As per Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, “…money goes farther in the developing world…the most cost effective interventions are often at the grassroots level.”  While many of the big organizations spend a chunk of their donations on big fundraising campaigns, we at instruments4africa keep administrative costs to a bare minimum.  The small group of us who run the organization do it on a strictly volunteer basis.  This is why we can apply 100% of your donation directly to those in need.

Small donations add up and make a big difference in these young girls’ lives.  Thank you, we could not do it without your support.  I continue to be inspired by the girls…their potential and progress.  You are giving them a chance to create a different future for themselves, their families and their community.  Again, to quote Nicholas Kristof, “Building self-reliance and empowering people to fix their own problems is key.”  We agree, we aim to do this and we are true believers in the possibility.

I am also inspired by those who reach out and give from their hearts.  Like the two volunteer teachers, Claire and Yves, that are here from Canada, giving their energy to help the girls catch up in reading.  They are angels!  All of you out there who bought dresses and bags this summer, thank you!  We are still running on those funds, but we need more for the next trimester of schooling.  As always, your donations are tax-deductible.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!  Join us in providing opportunities, you’ll be happy you did!  Wishing you much joy and inspiration this holiday season!

Thanks to the donations from Toubab Krewe and Craiggie Brewing in Asheville, NC, construction is underway on the Krewe School House  in Bamako, Mali, West Africa.  The community is delighted and grateful…as are we at Instruments4Africa.  Thank you, Toubab Krewe and Craiggie!!  Brick by brick…Stay posted.

Nana

This is Nana. She is 10 years old and she lives at the Togola Community Center in Bamako, Mali. Like many children her age, she needs to build confidence in her abilities as she moves into the upper elementary grades. Like many other children in Mali, she needs your love and support to have access to an education and emergency medical care.

Thanks to your generous donations, Nana is proud to be a 4th grader in the Jigiseme School in Sabalybougou. She says Monday is her favorite day of the week because she gets to go to school. She loves reading and dreams of being a doctor so she can “help sick people”.

A $20 monthly donation will pay for school tuition, traditional arts training and medical care for Nana. The Instruments 4 Africa program provides the tuition for a modern education in reading, writing, math & science, as well as traditional arts training in music, dance and theater. Nana’s education gives her hope for the future and her arts training draws strength from the past. If you would like to help Nana stay in school and be able to receive emergency medical care please click here to donate via facebook or contact me at info@instruments4africa.org.

I4A girls getting ready for performance at the American International School.

The African Dance Party at the American International School was a success and so fun, thanks to the Community Service Student Volunteers at the American International School and their sponsor, Robin Pascucci. And big thanks to AISB for stressing the importance of community service and hosting related events.

We started the evening with a performance by the Instruments 4 Africa Dance Troupe. They were so happy to wear their new costumes (thank you, Suzan) and share the traditional songs & dances they have been learning. Next came a dance lesson for the elementary kids from the American School, their parents and several teachers. The lessons were taught by the I4A girls troupe Malian Dance Coach, Lassy Kone. Thank you, Lassy! Great job by Lassy and the I4A girls…engaging the group and creating community through music and dance. We closed the evening with a community dance circle and gave everyone a chance to share their moves in the center of the circle. It was definitely one of the best times so far this year. So much laughter and joy! We all left with huge smiles. I am reminded of the power of music as a means of self-expression, relating to others and finding fulfillment.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be introducing each of the girls in the Instruments 4 Africa program, giving you a window into their life. Stay tuned.

Looking for an original holiday gift?  For a donation of $100 USD or more, the Instruments 4 Africa girls choir will sing a custom praise song (in Bambara) for you or for someone you would like to honor.  In Mali,the praise singer, or griot is the community historian.  They provide an aural history of Mali’s proud culture.  Honor your loved ones this holiday season with a praise song!  Click her to donate through our causes page on facebook.