MALI VOWS TO OBTAIN ‘REPARATION’ AFTER US CUSTOMS BREAK TRADITIONAL INSTRUMENT

Renowned kora player Ballake Sissoko landed in Paris on February 4 after touring the US, to find that his instrument had been “completely destroyed” by customs agents in New York.

AFP

BAMAKO – Mali has called for reparation and condemned “immense cultural damage” after a Malian musician said United States customs agents broke his traditional instrument, sparking outrage online.

Renowned kora player Ballake Sissoko landed in Paris on February 4 after touring the US, to find that his instrument had been “completely destroyed” by customs agents in New York.

The traditional West African 21-string lute had been dismantled, with a note left by the agents, in Spanish, reading “intelligent security saves time,” according to a post on Sissoko’s Facebook page.

“Would US customs have dared to dismantle a Stradivarius?,” Sissoko said, referring to a class of fabled violins.

“These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace,” he added.

“This is an unprovoked and sad act of aggression, a reflection of the kind of cultural ignorance and racism that is taking over in so many parts of the world,” he said.

 

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