Friday, January 13, 2012

Festival in the Desert: Happening Now

Our man Chris Nolan (manager for the great Khaira Arby of Timbuktu) is at the Festival in the Desert right now, and keeping us up to date.  You may recall that after the Thanksgiving kidnapping/murder incident there, a number of governments, including the US government, warned people not to to attend the Festival this year.  Personally, I had real doubts that there would be any trouble at such a big public event, but the chill was understandable, and inevitable.

Meanwhile, Chris didn't hesitate.  He's been having trouble getting online, but managed to send a few texts during last night's opening festivities, and two photos.  Here's his brief, but inspiring, report so far.

"Not many tourists are in these streets, but those who are attending this year’s FID will see a great show. Muezzin’s call to prayer opens ceremony. Lineup tonight includes a group sponsored by Khaira Arby, Groupe Kia. Main lineup includes: Omar Konate, Terekaft, Abdoulayer Diabate, Mamar Kassey, and Koudede. About 6000 people here on opening night. Everyone having a great time. Maybe 150 Westerners who are going to be treated to an incredible series of performances. Bono is here with about 20 people from his One Foundation. The crowd is electric. Abdoulaye Diabate is burning up the… Bono is rocking with the music as he sits between the Minster of Culture and the Minister of Tourism and Arts."

Ah, don't you wish you were there?  I do.

Opening moments of 2012 Festival au Desert, Timbuktu

Many Ansar (white turban), Festival director, at the controls
We should note that en route to this festival, Chris, along with Khaira and her band attended Festival Taragalte, in the Moroccan desert.  He has sent a report and photos, which we will post next week.

Banning Eyre
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