Ali Farka Toure Performs Amandrai, a Love Song, Live at Segou Festival
Dady Chery


By Dady Chery

Haiti Chery

Song and lyrics by Ali Farka Toure, You Tube | Summary of song from Discogs

Ali Farka Toure was a fantastic singer-composer-musician from the Timbuktu region of Mali. At 17, after being moved by a great guitar performance, Farka Toure began to teach himself to play the guitar by transferring to this instrument the traditional songs from Mali that he had learned to perform on a single-string African guitar called a gurkel and a single-string fiddle called a njarka.

Farka Toure was formally trained as a sound engineer. He retired from this work after he saved enough to return to his village and family, and he became a fruit and rice farmer. For a while, he toured Europe and the United States, performing his own compositions, together with traditional songs, to great acclaim. In 1990 however, Farka Toure returned home and never again left his farm on music business, even to record.

Farka Toure’s famous Grammy-winning album Talking Timbuktu, in collaboration with U.S. guitarist Ry Cooder, was produced by transporting to Mali all the musicians and equipment, including the gasoline generators needed to power the equipment in Farka Toure’s home town, where there was no electricity. In addition, every day the crew had to wait for him to complete his farm chores before starting the sessions. Farka Toure explained that his music was not mere entertainment, and the music’s context should be respected.

The following song was composed for that album:

VIDEO: Ali Farka Toure, Bassekou Kouyate, and friends perform “Amandrai” – Little sister.

If I want to see my friend, I can’t enter her house. I play or sing something and she will know I’m there. She finds a way to meet me. I sing songs to flatter her and express the love between us. Then I must return home (the distance between Tamashek villages is great) to wake early for work. All day I think of the girl.

In 2004, Farka Toure became the Mayor of Niafunke, the broader region that includes his village. His major projects for the region were to clean it up, fight malaria, and plant trees.

Ali Farka-Toure died on March 7, 2006, at age 67, in Mali’s capital city of Bamaka. While his body was being returned to Niafunke, an unprecedented sandstorm grounded all the airplanes and delayed his funeral by one day. Many have noted that this seemed to be a fitting tribute to a great spirit.

Sources: | Haiti Chery | You Tube | Summary of lyrics from Discogs

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