“I took a trip back to my homeland Mali in Africa, and was welcomed with cries of joy” (‘Je viens de faire un voyage au Mali, ma terre natale ; j’y ai été accueillie par des pleurs de joie’.)

‘Nsera – Destination’: the title of Fatoumata Diawara’s new single, which she sings in bambara, the official language of Mali.

“Human relationships, hospitality and generosity”, this is the Nsera mantra.

She may be one of the most outstanding voices in world music, but Fatoumata Diawara remains unclassifiable: Afropop, Afrofolk, Afrofuturism... Somewhere between tradition and modernity, guitar in hand, she brings wassoulou rhythms and West African vocal techniques to meet contemporary sounds. A singer, composer, musician and actor, as one of Africa’s leading female voices, she never ceases to surprise: Herbie Hancock, Roberto Fonseca, -M-, Angélique Kidjo, Disclosure, Lauryn Hill; Abderrahmane Sissako and Philippe Godeau for cinema and theatre…

Nsera, the first track from her forthcoming album, is co-written and co-produced by one of the central figures of British pop music, Damon Albarn, an artist with a long history of fusion and collaboration with African musicians. Singing and playing keyboards, the Gorillaz and Blur frontman infuses a touch of melancholy and modernity into the song’s Mandinka sound. This gave rise to a neologism, invented by Fatou for the occasion: “Londonko”.

Nsera will be released on 15 November 2023 and will be transformed into images by Gregory Ohrel (Orelsan, Jain, Residente). An exploration into the heart of African diversity that Fatoumata Diawara previously represented in the “Mali-ko” project (bringing together around forty artists, from all regions of Mali, on a song for peace).

Now Londonko is the name of one imagined continent, bringing the two continents together.

For Fatou, the end of the journey is a return to her home country, which she is still eagerly exploring: her land, her culture, her Destination, “Nsera”. We know that on her album Fenfo, she had “something to say”; on this track it is an invocation for all of Africa to manifest. Africa has a lot to give.

A (re)call for awareness of the true richness of a people who have so much to teach the rest of the world.

Bamako versus Londonko, a story to follow…. and to share.