A Malian music documentary tilted They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile, will air on BBC Brit channel 120 tomorrow Friday, 11 November at 8pm.
BBC Brit is an entertainment subscription television channel that features factual entertainment programming. The channel is wholly owned and operated by BBC Worldwide.
Following its global release last year, the documentary was also screened by AfriDocs in March this year to celebrate Music Freedom Day in Mali. AfriDocs is an African broadcast best known for airing series of African documentary films.
Selected for the London Film Festival, this documentary tells the compelling story of Jihadists who took control of Northern Mali in 2012. Directed by US producer and director, Johanna Schwartz, the documentary explores a fight by Mali’s musicians who want to keep music alive in their country. It shows the fierce battles between the army and the jihadists.
Produced by Johanna Schwartz, Sarah Mosses, John Schwartz and Kat Amara Korba, the documentary captures life over borders at refugee camps where money and hope are scarce, follows perilous journeys home to war ravaged cities, and for one band, their path to international stardom. With a specially commissioned soundtrack from Mali’s most exciting artists, the documentary draws audiences into the human side of Mali’s conflict, watches events as they unfold and witnesses the impact on Mali’s musical community
The movement imposed one of the strictest interpretations of Sharia law in history. Music, one of the most important forms of communication in Mali, disappeared overnight in 2012 when Islamic extremist groups rose up to capture an area the size of the UK and France combined. The extremists banned music, radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned and Mali's musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, Malian musicians and some esteemed members of society, were forced into exile where most remain even now.
According to organisers of the documentary, the music ban lasted until January 2013. Music, however, did not return to northern parts of Mali for more than a year after the ban. In some places, music has not yet returned amid fears about the extremist groups still lying in wait. The extremist ban on music has morphed into a self-imposed ban.
“I remember very clearly reading about what was happening. I couldn’t imagine a world without music, especially in a place where music was so vital to everyday life. I began to plan my trip to Mali almost immediately,” wrote Schwartz, documentary's director on their website.
She added, “I am so proud to bring these musician’s stories to the world. They’ve been through hell, and survived to sing about it. Though the conflict in Mali is still far from over, with extremist attacks continuing in the north and south to this day, I have no doubt that these musicians will continue to stand up and fight for their right to sing.”
The situation in Mali forms part of disturbing trend across the globe where extremists are attacking culture, art and freedom with increasing frequency and violence.