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Mali

  • The Malian singer-songwriter finished her latest album, Beautiful Africa, just as war was breaking out in her home country. Traoré says that working as a musician has helped her make peace with a conflicted sense of cultural identity.
  • The songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré is a superstar in Mali. But in the last 18 months, a violent insurgency from the country's northern regions made life very difficult — especially for artists. Now, he's set to release a new album, Alafia, recorded while rebels occupied his home town.
  • Malian tradition lies at the heart and foot-stomping soul of Cheick Hamala Diabate and his band, but their melodies and undeniable rhythms cut across age and ethnicity. Their music often tells a story about Mali and its people as part of the sway and shake.
  • While AP West Africa Bureau Chief Rukmini Callimachi was covering the French military intervention in Mali, she gathered six trash bags full of abandoned al-Qaida documents from buildings used by the organization. Included was a copy of a scathing letter sent to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, which described him as a prima donna. He later quit the organization and formed his own group — carrying out attacks that killed 101 people.
  • It's been a decade since Paul Chandler left the U.S. and headed to West Africa, having fallen in love with the region's music. Now Mali is his home, and he's teaching children at the American School in Bamako how to play the music of his adopted country.
  • When French President Francois Hollande came for a visit, Mali's government gave him a camel. Unable to transport the camel home, Hollande left it with a local family who then ate it. Embarrassed officials have promised Hollande a new camel.
  • Mali gave Hollande a camel as a thank you for sending troops to repel Islamist fighters from the country. Unfortunately that camel ended up a stew.
  • The guitarist comes from the northern city of Gao, which has made headlines lately due to fighting by Islamist militants and French-backed Malian forces. Salah now plays at a club in Mali's capital, Bamako, where, he says, people gather to relax, reminisce and "see images other than war."
  • Malian authorities continue to hold newspaper publisher Boukary Daou for printing an open letter to Malian authorities. The letter warns that Malian soldiers could lay down their weapons in the fight against Islamist militants unless they're told why a former coup leader is getting a huge salary.
  • The head of France's joint chiefs of staff says he thinks one of the leaders, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, is probably dead, but he's less certain about Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The government of Chad over the weekend said the leaders had been killed in fighting in Mali.