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.

Khaira Arby USAID Show October 2012

One of our first events sponsoring musicians from the north of Mali was with Khaira Arby at the American Club Bamako in October 2012.  This was Khaira’s first concert in Bamako since the coup in late March 2012.  With USAID, we helped to organize this event to support displaced artists from the north of Mali.  It was a joyous occasion for the musicians and everyone there.  Thank you to Khaira for sharing her wisdom and beautiful music, USAID,  The American Embassy of Bamako, our friends Toubab Krewe and Afropop for their support, and all those who are reaching out to help keep the music and culture alive.


This video was made in September 2012 to be shown at a benefit concert in NYC to aid musicians from the north of Mali.


With the help of volunteers, like Nana, whose family comes from northern Mali, we have been able to contact more than 40 musicians from northern Mali to assess their family’s needs.  We are continuing to add families to our database of displaced musicians and artists from the north of Mali.

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”.