“Flying Colors – Music of the World” will feature music from Africa
Written by Katherine Porebski on February 10, 2020
As many of us have heard, the beloved and rare instrument of Mali’s renowned musician, Ballake Sissoko, was reportedly destroyed by US TSA Agents last week. The instrument is a KORA and is a delicate, harp-like West African instrument that usually has 21 strings and is handmade and irreplaceable. Please join me this Tuesday 10 am – noon for “Flying Colors – Music of the World” when I’ll be showcasing the music of Ballake Sissoko, among other world musicians.
“Sissoko says that inside the case, alongside the dismantled instrument, was an official note from the TSA written in Spanish, that said that agents had opened the case for inspection, and that its contents “may have been searched for prohibited items.”
At the bottom of the notification is this slogan: “Seguridad inteligente ahorra tiempo” — “Smart security saves time.”
Sissoko’s official statement notes a very particular cultural irony. Musicians in Mali, Sissoko’s home country, have been targeted by Islamist militants and Tuareg separatists linked to al-Qaida in northern Mali.
“In Mali,” the musician’s statement says in part, “the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers and to silence Mali’s great musical heritage. And yet, ironically, it is the USA Customs [sic] that have in their own way managed to do this.”
Sissoko’s statement also questions if TSA would have destroyed a fine Western classical instrument: “Would US customs [sic] have dared to dismantle a Stradivarius?”
There have been a number of incidents in which leading European musicians have said that their instruments were destroyed by the TSA. The Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who travels with his own Steinway, has said that he has had one piano completely destroyed by TSA, and another that had its keyboard ripped out. In 2013, German cellist Alban Gerhardt said that TSA carelessness led to his $20,000 bow being snapped in half.” – From NPR News