“It is an honor for our festival efforts to be recognized by your prestigious organization; thank you!,” declared from Bamako, Founder and Festival Director Manny Ansar. “It is just this type of solidarity and global recognition that helps galvanize our deep musical tradition in Mali and the Sahel. While extremist forces may attempt to divide and silence our communities, the cultural heritage that lives and weaves between us, will always overcome. With your generous support, we will continue to spread our international message of tolerance and plurality in exile, until we are able to return home to Timbuktu in peace.”
The festival, which went into exile last year due to threats from the Al Qaida linked extremists, was created in 2001 to celebrate Tuareg culture. It soon attracted international artists and audiences, including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.
Manny Ansar has tirelessly promoted, developed and defended the festival for years. A festival in exile was planned to take place as a caravan in Bamako and in neighboring countries during this spring, but due to the war and conflicts in the region the festival has had to cancel the spring tour.
About the Freemuse Award
The Freemuse Award is sponsored by the Björn Afzelius International Culture Foundation (BAIK).
Björn Afzelius, who died in 1999, was a Swedish rock singer who became a passionate spokesman for suppressed people around the world combining his musical career with political activism.
It is the first time that the Freemuse Award is given to an organization. The award is given to an individual or an organization that “has worked for freedom of musical expression in a remarkable way”. Previous winners include Tiken Jah Fakoly, one of Africa’s greatest reggae artists, who ironically for several years lived safely in exile in Mali having received death threats in his home country Ivory Coast.