From Lagos to Mali: Bantu goes on 5000km anti-war road trip

Bantu, the 13-piece Afro-funk band led by the host of Lagos' Afropolitan Vibes, Ade Bantu, embarked on a grueling road trip from Africa's Big Apple to Mali for Festival sur le Niger earlier this month. 

L-R: Salif Keita, Ade Bantu and Tedienne Ceck
L-R: Salif Keita, Ade Bantu and Tedienne Ceck

The band undertook the 5 000km trip to be part of the festival's 13th edition and to make a statement against violence in war-torn Mali.

"Someone asked me why we would go through all this stress for a festival in some remote place,” Ade Bantu said. 

“It’s simple, we were determined to show solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters in Mali who have been battling with Islamist insurgency for years. This festival was important to help heal wounds and build bridges."

Held for the first time in 2005, Festival sur le Niger takes place on the banks of the Niger River in early February. This year, Bantu performed before a crowd of 8 000 people in the town of Segou, which is located about 235km from the Malian capital Bamako.

During the five-day festival, Bantu shared the stage with other African artists such as Salif Keïta (Mali), Didier Awadi (Senegal) and the Ali Farka Toure Band.

The Festival sur le Niger also featured theater performances, exhibitions and music workshops.

Ade Bantu described his band’s experience at the festival as "amazing beyond words”. 

“The love from the audience and our fellow musicians from across the continent was humbling," he said.

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