Track of the week "Safare" by Vieux Farka Touré is a charming track for which he nimbly and fluidly tickles the ear with his charismatic skill on the guitar. One can almost feel the vastness and heat of the Malian desert through the earnest chants and melodies smattered with percussive pops, plucks and pounds.
The “Hendrix of the Sahara”, West-African Touré comes from a long lineage of Malian military men. Despite his family’s wish for him to join those ranks he enrolled at the Institut National des Arts in Bamako, Mali. He secretly took up the guitar, just like his father, the Grammy Award-winning Ali Farka Touré, who had warned him about how difficult the musician's journey could be.
But he persisted and in 2006 father and son collaborated on Vieux's debut album, completing several tracks before Ali was struck down by cancer. Since then, he has released three more studio albums and has been travelling, sharing the cultural intricacies of his homeland, which has been rattled by political friction between Islamic and Tuareg rebels since early 2012. His latest album, Mon Pays (meaning “My Country”), seeks to respond to the friction with its own story of a Mali that extends beyond war.
“For me, it is a statement for the world that this land is for the sons and daughters of Mali, not for Al Qaeda or any militants. This land is for peace and beauty, rich culture and tolerance. This is our heritage, what we must always fight to protect in any way that we can. For me, that means making music that reminds the world of who we are,” he says.
By all accounts Touré’s live performances are incredibly cathartic and make for an exceptionally memorable up-close and personal experience. On 18 July he will be visiting South Africa to perform at the Cape Town World Music Festival alongside locals such as The Brother Moves On, Thandiswa Mazwai, Beatenberg and DJ Clock. My advice would be not to miss this one.