Amadou & Mariam: Our music spreads peace

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Quintessentially African with a rock-sounding punch at times, Mali’s blind duo Amadou & Mariam were in Cape Town this weekend to spread their message of “peace, love and fraternity”.

In an interview this weekend, Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia talked about their music mission that emanated from a troubled land.


AFRICAN VOICES: Mali’s famous blind couple Amadou & Mariam talked about their musical careers in Cape Town yesterday. They were headliners at this weekend’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

“We want to play music for people all over the world. It is important for us that everybody understand our important message of peace, love and fraternity,” said Amadou.

“Thanks to our music, we can meet with politicians. We can share messages with them.”

Amadou said their music was not political but their aim was to “speak about peace all over the world”.

“Artists are there to share messages,” he said.

“When politics was difficult, (South African singer) Miriam Makeba shared her message (against apartheid). It’s the same for us.

“When something is wrong in the world we want to share our message.”

Mariam talked about the duo’s collaboration and how they have been writing songs together.

“We are happy together. We have been married 40 years. We have three children and we are happy to travel together,” said Mariam.

“We create songs together. I write the lyrics and Amadou writes the melody.”

She added: “One of our sons is also a musician. He likes rap music. We want to make a song with him.”

The duo have played alongside some of the world’s best known musicians, including Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

On stage at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on Friday night, the duo stood side by side without much movement. Mariam was embellished in gold jewellery.

“I like gold jewellery. I like perfume, bags and shoes,” she said about her style during this interview.

“When I was young everybody called me ‘smart’.”


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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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