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Exploring Malian Culture with Toumani Diabate: April 27, 2009

In this lecture/demonstration, Toumani Diabaté discussed the rich cultural heritage of his homeland and talked about his role as a 71st generation griot (hereditary musician/historian caste) in Mali. "The griot is an ambassador of all culture. You have to be born a griot. You keep everything in your memory and tell the stories of the nobles and of the country through song." Toumani demonstrated the kora, a 21-string West African lute made from calabash and cow skin. His instrument is over 50 years old and belonged to his late father, Sidiki Diabaté, a kora player of legendary fame in West Africa.

"People might say Africa is a poor country, but it is still rich with culture. As they say in Africa, 'A man without culture is a man without soul.' " --Toumani Diabate.

Photos by Kawakahi Amina '09