Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Toumani Diabaté

I was listening to Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orcestra on CD. I love the way that he plays the Kora. His Symmetric Orchestra consists of people from different cultures and traditions. Their name was chosen because no one style dominates over the others. I love listening to this, and I was reading the sleeve notes again, and read that the Symmetric Orchestra rarely performs outside Mali, but plays every Friday night in Toumani's club in Bamako, Mali's capital. What a shame. The idea of going to see them play, and sit in the club soaking up the atmosphere seemed an impossibility that was hugely appealing, and I was daydreaming about going there to see them, thinking how wonderful it would be, and what a shame I couldn't go there. Then the thought struck me - why not? There are plenty of research active staff and PhD students in West Africa that simply do not have the resources to travel to Universities like mine and get access to resources and staff so that they can develop their research ideas and take part in research seminars. It would probably be useful, as an editor, to engage with these people. Moreover, we recruit many undergraduates and postgraduates from this region. So there are plenty of strong professional reasons for going. And my PhD student, Sam Laryea, from Ghana, is well connected. I discussed it with him, and now we are talking about setting up a visit to Ghana and Mali. A research workshop in Ghana, gathering up people from nearby West African countries, followed by a trip to Mali, would be perfectly plausible. I have the funding for the flights, and Sam has the contacts to arrange the venue and invite the audience. This could be a great trip.

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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