Back in September, we were thrilled to report on the announcement of the return of Festival in the Desert, the annual Northern Malian celebration of culture and music. The Festival was cancelled for the first time this year due to the jihadist takeover that had wreaked havoc on the region’s population and, especially, its musicians. Unfortunately, though some progress has been made, peace has not fully returned to Northern Mali. Last month, the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) ended its ceasefire with the Malian government after Malian soldiers reportedly fired on peaceful demonstrators, including women and children.
In consequence of what its organizers say is a “not yet appropriate” security situation, the Festival in the Desert will remain on hold in 2014. Instead, the Caravan for Peace, which has traveled around the world since the cancellation of this year’s festival, will go on in its absence. The Caravan will bring musicians of Northern Mali to Burkina Faso for performances in late January and conclude its long journey of exile with a Great Night for Peace in the southern Malian city of Ségou at the Festival sur le Niger (you can find more about that here). Let’s hope the Festival can finally make a triumphant return in 2015.