PRESS RELEASE

Fatoumata Diawara will release ‘Maliba’ a collaboration with the Google Arts & Culture platform on 10th March. The seven new songs on ‘Maliba’ form the soundtrack to a special online presentation of the legendary Timbuktu Manuscripts. Celebrating centuries of Malian culture, ‘Maliba’ will be available digitally only and represents the first album produced in conjunction with Google Arts & Culture. ‘Yakandi’, the name for a traditional rhythm from Fatoumata’s region of Wassoulou and the first track to be taken from ‘Maliba’ can be heard HERE.

“This project means a lot to me. To be involved in the protection of the Timbuktu Manuscripts is a huge honour. Conditions for men and women in Mali are very different and for a woman to be involved in this cultural preservation is very important. It is unbelievable to be part of it and it feels like a dream. I’m so proud and so happy. I’m very in touch with my ancestral past. Many of the visuals and ideas I use come to me in my dreams, dreams about my ancestors. To be given a chance to help protect our ancestral and cultural legacy is so special to me.”

In Timbuktu, silence reigned. And yet, from this heavy silence a powerful voice emerged, the voice of the forbidden artist, one with the courage to sing despite the imposition of Sharia. The thousands of surviving Timbuktu Manuscripts also defied centuries of threats, as if protected by some invisible presence watching over these cultural treasures. Then came the time when the angels of the Sahel, with their severed wings and tears of blood, were doomed to the spectacle of their own annihilation. Of the eternal, only impermanence has survived. But loaded with knowledge, the boats sailed along the Niger River saving wisdom, which for a long time resided in the desert City of 333 Saints. This knowledge encompassed many areas from astronomy to music, medicine to mathematics and botany to mystical philosophy.

If Fatoumata Diawara had already been chosen to embody the voice of Timbuktu in Abderrahmane Sissako’s film, which won several Caesars in 2015, she is now returning to the same theme and as a strong voice in the Google Arts & Culture project called “Mali Magic & Timbuktu Manuscripts”, accessible via g.co/MaliMagic (starting 10th March).

This colossal undertaking, serving to preserve the world’s cultural heritage, represents the meeting of the most innovative tools in the field of technology with the treasures of African civilisation, embodied in the music and creativity of Fatoumata Diawara. Bringing together seven new songs, ‘Maliba’ is an homage to the culture and struggle of a people.

Recorded in Fatoumata’s small studio in Bamako, the album is drenched in the authentic rhythms of Wassoulou music and features Malian rapper Master Soumy and beautiful Tamasheq voices. These contributions give the Google project an inclusive feel and showcases heritage in its many facets.

About Google Arts & Culture:
Google Arts & Culture puts the treasures, stories and knowledge of over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries at your fingertips. Together with our partners we work on developing and applying technologies that help to preserve and share culture in new ways.

About ‘Mali Magic & Timbuktu Manuscripts’:

Long before the European Renaissance the Malian city of Timbuktu gave birth to an abundance of learning in the fields of human rights, morality, politics, astronomy, literature captured in thousands of priceless manuscripts.

When this ancient knowledge – cared for by families rather than being stored in museums – were threatened by extremist groups in 2012, local communities raced against time to preserve these treasures, considered one of Africa’s great written legacies.

The project highlights the great legacy of Mali and the people’s quest to preserve it and ventures to explore Mali’s vibrant culture by showcasing stories about Manuscripts, Monuments, Music and Modern Arts.