Quick geo-fact: Timbuktu, in the north of Mali, was founded as early as the 12th century. It’s also the home of hundreds of thousands of medieval-era manuscripts in Arabic and many local languages, covering everything from astronomy to personal correspondence. Nobody knows for sure how large the collection is, or what most of the manuscripts are about, as only a handful have been catalogued. It’s also not clear how many have been lost as a result of the ongoing war in the country and the destruction of Timbuktu’s manuscript museum by rebels in 2012.
Artist: Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind back in the 1980s and have been making music ever since. Their album Welcome to Mali was nominated for a Grammy award, they’ve fronted for U2, collaborated with the likes of Manu Chao, and played at more music festivals than the average aging hippie has attended. For this song, they worked with French singer/songwriter Bertrand Cantat to create something that may simultaneously make you crave a warm afternoon, a road trip, and a dusty landscape. In the best possible way.