Inauguration day on January 20, 2009 shapes up to be an event to remember for many historical reasons. One of the more mundane reasons will be the invitation extended by president elect Barack Obama to the Malian duo Amadou et Mariam. Amadou and Mariam, also known as the "blind couple from Mali" are famous for their unique brand of Afro-blues and recording of the official anthem of the FIFA 2006 World Cup. Their presence at inauguration day among other renowned artists such as Beyonce, Jay-Z or Leona Lewis got the blogosphere buzzing. Steven Cigale asks the readers of his blog for their opinions on the duo and the Obama's invitation (fr). Here are a few of their reactions in the comment section:
Mdoumbia is very proud of his fellow Malians:
Congratulations to Amadou and Mariam. You make Mali proud with your diligent work.
Julien Michel sees the invitation as a sign of recognition of lesser-known talents from lesser-known nations:
Je tiens à saluer les performances de ce groupe qui au dela de leur talents musicaux ont su transmettre un réel message venu d'afrique, de la population dite "pauvre" (bien qu'elle soit très riche d'un point de vue culturelle et qu'on en parle pas assez).
je tiens aussi à saluer le geste "d'ouverture" du président américain Mr Obama qui à compris les enjeux de demain et qui a su tendre la main à des talents moins dirigés par la course aux bénéfices.
I want to salute the performance of this band which reaches beyond their musical talent and carries a real message from Africa, from the so-called "poor" ( although extremely rich culturally, an aspect that is too-often ignored). I also want to salute this “reaching-out” gesture from the american president, Mr. Obama who understands tomorrow's challenges and who has the wisdom to land a hand to lesser-known talents who are not driven by the pursuit of the bottom-line.
Sometimes, Africa and American politics come together in the most unsuspected place from the most unsuspected band. The long-awaited album from the heavy metal band Guns N' Roses, Chinese Democracy, has one track called Madagascar (see video below).
The song speaks of drifting "so far out from the shore that I can't find my way back, my way anymore" a recurrent theme when it comes to Madagascar. The mention of an African country is already a not-so familiar territory in the heavy metal universe but the more unexpected part is that, as seen on the video, a major portion of the song contains part of Martin Luther King Jr's famed speech, "I have a dream". And that's how, thanks to Axl Rose, one mixes rock n' roll, civil right movement and Africa. (Maybe Axl knew how much my generation of Malagasies were fascinated by GNR).
Almost on cue, Vola recently wrote a blog post celebrating the life of Dr. King, 40 years after his passing and invites her readers to attend an exhibition in honor of his memory.
I guess it does not matter whether one builds cultural bridges via Afro-blues, classic speeches or banging guitar riffs; as long as they are willing to build that bridge.