Revered Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko has demanded an explanation from US customs officials after he found his kora, a West African string instrument, in pieces following his US tour.
This custom-built instrument was specially designed by Julian Cooper, a sound engineer.
Sissoko claims he found a note from US customs officials stating that they had opened the instrument’s case for inspection when he opened his luggage in Paris right after his US tour.
However, the leaflet said nothing about the disassembly of the instrument itself.
In a recently released statement, Sissoko revealed that “the strings, bridge and entire, delicate and complex sound system of amplification has been taken apart.
“Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance.
“These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace. In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and silence Mali’s great musical heritage.
“And yet, ironically, it is the USA customs that have in their own way managed to do this.”
The 52-year-old Malian rose to prominence in 1999 following his scene-stealing performance on Toumani Diabaté’s album “New Ancient Strings.” He followed this up with his debut album the following year titled “Déli.”
As at the time of writing this report, the US customs officials had not officially responded to the allegations.
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