Mali music unplugged: Damon Albarn and Afel Bocoum perform together in Bamako
Last week, Malian singer and guitarist Afel Bocoum was joined in Mali by British musician Damon Albarn for a unique music project aimed at drawing international attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in Mali and to the regional food crisis in West and Central Africa.
More than 18 million people in nine countries across the region are threatened by food shortages, including 1 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. With the next harvests not due until September and October, the region is now entering the worst of the crisis.
In Mali, 4.6 million people are affected, including 1.6 million people in northern Mali where insecurity and violence means that access for humanitarian organizations is limited at a time when people are in desperate need of help. In addition, conflict has forced around 370,000 people to flee their homes in the north. Around 200,000 are seeking refuge in neighboring countries – that are already struggling to deal with food shortages – and 170,000 are displaced within Mali.
Bocoum said: “The situation here is critical. Last year there was not enough rain, so this year’s harvest was terrible, there hasn’t been enough pasture for the animals and they are dying. People are just trying to get enough food to eat. As a result of the conflict in the north, thousands of people have left their homes, like me, and there is no-one to take care of them.
“Music makes miracles happen and brings people together, and I hope that by taking this opportunity to speak, people will listen and hear our message. This is a message of peace.”
A new song Bamako by Bocoum and Albarn was recorded at an acoustic performance in Afel’s home in Mali’s capital, and will be available to view today on You Tube.
Albarn said: “There’s a very precious deeply rooted musical tradition in this country and that’s part of the lifeblood of this place. I first came to Mali over 10 years ago and met some incredible musicians, and it is always a very special experience to come back and play with hugely respected and renowned artists such as Afel.”
Oxfam aims to reach 1.8 million people across West and Central Africa with emergency assistance. In Mali Oxfam works in the southern Kayes region and in the northern Gao region.
Download photos from the recording session
Download audio recorded in Mali (215MB soundfile via wetransfer.com)
Visit www.Sahel2012.org for more information, stories, video, and to help us push world leaders to act now.
Notes to Editors
In 2000, Oxfam worked on a project with Damon Albarn in Mali. Damon worked alongside other Malian musicians, including Afel Boucoum and Toumani Diabite, and produced the “Mali Music” album, launched in 2002. In 2011, Damon led a collective of music producers on a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and worked with contemporary Congolese musicians to produce an album, DRC Music, for Oxfam in just five days. Proceeds from both albums go towards Oxfam’s work to help thousands of people living in poverty.
The UN estimates that across the Sahel:
- More than 18 million people are in need of assistance
- Over 1 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition
- $1.64 billion is needed to tackle the crisis 2012 Sahel crisis. So far $792 million has been committed, according to the UN's Financial Tracking Service.
- The two biggest donors to the Sahel Food Crisis to date have been the European Commission and United States.
Christina Corbett, Oxfam Humanitarian Press Officer
+44 (0) 7557 48 37 58
Thx for speaking up for women: @MarsGlobal,#Mondelez & @Nestle have now moved from words 2 action http://t.co/laFtaWajFI #BehindTheBrands1 day 10 hours ago
UN agency and Slow Food group partner to boost livelihoods of small farmers http://t.co/l0YMT9yyk8 @SlowFoodHQ1 day 17 hours ago
RT @oxfamgbpress: Oxfam very relieved that Cyclone #Mahasen did not cause damage to vulnerable communities in Myanmar http://t.co/t2VwONPjs01 day 17 hours ago
RT @annamac33: The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/HRlNC8BcO31 day 18 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @KristinDavis @GaelGarciaB @driverminnie @liviafirth @baabamaal @HelenLMirren @BoseOfficial1 day 18 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @AnnieLennox @djimonhounsou @angeliquekidjo @firthcom @coldplay @RahulBose1 http://t.co/rXOrgldjlt1 day 18 hours ago
Thanks for speaking up for women! @MarsGlobal #Mondelez & @Nestle have moved from words to action http://t.co/pMvtbhesPh #BehindTheBrands1 day 20 hours ago
#FF the Oxfams! @IntermonOxfam @OxfamIndia @OxfamJapan @oxfamnovib @OxfamQuebec @Oxfam_mcm @OxfamItalia @oxfam_sol @oxfamfrance1 day 21 hours ago
#FF the Oxfams! @OxfamIreland @oxfamcanada @OxfamAustralia @Oxfam_DE @OxfamAmerica @oxfamgb @oxfamnz @oxfamhongkong @oxfammexico1 day 21 hours ago
Dismal levels of investment in agriculture a primary reason 1 in 8 people in the world are hungry http://t.co/orbRUxuVQo #govspendwatch2 days 12 hours ago
'A Jungle of Humanity - and Disorder', an interactive feature from @nytimes http://t.co/DxmATtGICV #SyriaCrisis #Zaatari2 days 14 hours ago
RT @benphillips76 How to Start Development’s Gutenberg Revolution http://t.co/DbieZs9UBZ #govspendwatch2 days 14 hours ago
Social protection, #genderequality & #climatechange crucial to tackling inequality http://t.co/mKqSIBcceM via @guardian #govspendwatch2 days 16 hours ago
RT @louis_belanger Starting to see Syrian refugees all over #Beirut On promenade, on Hamra, outside grocery stores, in parking lots #Syria2 days 17 hours ago
Are governments meeting their #MDG spending targets? Read the blog http://t.co/3bF1lhH8AX #govspendwatch #MDGs2 days 17 hours ago