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Oumou Sangaré, Or Why France Must Stop Snobering African Cultures

Oumou Sangaré is not just anyone. It is a monument to Malian music and can boast a significant musical career and business. She is a voice, she is an aura, but she is also a symbol. Oumou Sangaré symbolizes this sound coming from Africa that France seems to discover with astonishment. She says it herself: "Europe now discovers that Africa has always been a continent that moves, dances; The rhythm is in the blood of all Africans, whether you like it or not. " And it was time.

His album Mogoya , released last May 19 at Nø Førmat! And finalized by the trio Albert, reminds us without concessions. Oumou Sangaré chose a broad subject: human relations. For her, "human relations deteriorate greatly" . And she's not wrong. In a world where black artists are still devalued and exposed to the same clichés, talking to the youth of love and humanity seems rather topical.

Oumou, with this album, takes what is good in both "tradition" and "modernity". She quotes the singer Camille, met during her passage in France: "To respect the tradition is to make it evolve" . Neither blocked in the past, nor distorted by the present, this album is the receptacle of a sound construction of the future. By condemning certain violent traditional practices and by renewing values ​​such as belonging to society and to the group, the bridge is made, of course.

The usual conflict of the conservatives against the progressives is made obsolete, swept away with ease by titles like "Kamelemba", mixture of traditional sounds Wassoulou and a more dancing foot. "It's not hard to adapt to modernity. You know, music is different from politics, from us men. We understand each other right away, the musicians, together. When I played with Alicia Keys , she remembers, I did not know her until she played with her and she made me come for a duet. We understood right away even though I do not speak much English, and she does not speak a word Bambara, not even a French word. "

Oumou is a bridge to this continent so rich, long and always plundered, appropriated artificially. It shows us that the link is possible with respect for each culture. It shows us that Africa is a gold mine that must be touched with the ears. For her, "we have to explain, show culture through dance, through rhythm. The festivals are there for that, they play a great role to discover the music of others .

And her festival, she created in her native land, Wassoulou, located in the extreme south of Mali. In December, the International Festival of Wassoulou will return for a second edition. Oumou welcomed, struggled: "The friends of Mali are braked by the North. We want to tell them that no, Mali is vast, it is not that the North. We are ready to welcome the friends of Mali in the South until the North calms down. They need to visit Mali, to see this country of culture. "

We can not repeat it enough, Africa is rich, there is not an African culture but hundreds of thousands. "Local music can not be lost, it is impossible, the continent is too rich. Every day is born something. It is so much in the blood that it can not be lost. " This wealth is found in Mali, which Oumou Sangaré defines as a country of orality where music and stories are transmitted through the griots , a caste of bards with a very important social role . Although she is not a griot woman, she is very fond of tradition. Oumou defends at all costs the idea that Africa, the beings, the regions, have the tools in them to radiate, that its identity should not be left behind: "When Oumou arrives, we know that Wassoulou is coming. "

One can not evoke Oumou Sangaré without mentioning his aura and his fight for women. This is where all its power and coherence appear. After a commitment by speech, by the texts, for the autonomy and freedom of African women, Oumou decides to show rather than to say. She starts in the hotel business, in agriculture ... The woman who defines herself as a "businesswoman" is very clear: "There is no development without the woman. " Again, we find the idea of resourcefulness. Women must take control without men, Malians and Africa in general must take control without being lulled by the European illusion.

Oumou is there. Symbol of will, strength and inspiration, it represents the Africa that we long wanted to hide. That one has long wanted to avoid. Our French snobbishness has long deprived us of this jewel. But Oumou is still there, and it's time to wake up, listen and see. To fetch on YouTube Salif Keïta , Fantani Touré or Tony Allen , and to be pierced by the beauty. Without looting it.