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Mali: Ancient Empires to Multi-Cultural Democracy

Momentous recent events in Mali—a coup, Tuareg rebellion, the imposition of Shariah law, 200,000 refugees—have challenged Malians’ pride in their multi-ethnic coexistence. This program takes a step back to look at the sweep of Mali’s historyfrom the ancient time of hunters to the rise of the 13th century Empire of Mali, from the coming of Islam to the era of French colonialism, from the celebration of Independence in 1960 to the rise of Malian music stars to the world stage—to realize that Mali is unique among all the nations of Africa. On the 50th anniversary of Malian independence, this program takes a step back to look at the sweep of its history. There are reasons why this landlocked region of West Africa has been the cradle for so many cultural movements, and why Mali has produced more successful world musicians than any country in Africa. With renowned Professor Cherif Keita as our guide, we trace the story from the griots of old to the stars of today: Salif Keita, Ali Farka Touré, Toumani Diabaté, Habib Koité and more. [Originally 2010]