Ten thousand people from all parts of Mali, from neighbouring West African countries, and from Europe, Asia and the Americas, gathered in Segou in central Mali earlier this year for the annual Festival on the Niger. Lucy Duran introduces performances by Abdoullaye Diabate and Yoro Diallo, who are both hugely popular in Mali but little known outside, and she goes in search of the rarely-heard hunters music of the region.
The Festival is literally on the Niger, as the performers play from a barge that floats on this great African river. It was started three years ago to promote culture and tourism in that region, to try and tempt travellers on their way to Timbuktu to stop in Segou for a while. The artist line-up is a mix of internationally known Malian artists such as Afel Bocoum from Niafunke, and artists who are popular in Mali but less well known outside.
Abdoullaye Diabate is a singer who comes from Segou. He sees himself as a modern-day griot, giving social and political messages to people while entertaining them with great songs for dancing. Yoro Diallo comes from Wassulu in the west, and is a leading player of the hunters music of that region.