Habib Koite and Vusi Mahlasela and their band performed an excellent concert at the Academy of Music in Northampton April 10. Koite lives in the west African nation of Mali, where he is from. Mahlasela lives in South Africa, where he is from. The venue appeared to be almost sold out. The applause was loud and long after every song. Many people danced in the aisles.
The band consisted of a guitar player, an electric bass player who also played traditional African instruments, a drummer, and a percussionist. All the musicians were from Mali or South Africa. Mahlasela said from the stage that the USA and other rich nations should give more aid money to poor Africans because poor Africans and their ancestors have helped rich nations get rich. Starting with slavery and continuing with rubber, oil, and other resources sold at artificially low prices under threat of a USA-Iraq-style war, rich nations have profited from Africa. Koite said from the stage that many Africans are so poor that they are willing to risk their lives trying to get to Europe to find work. Many die trying. Mahlasela and Koite told jokes from the stage that had the audience laughing. The music was uplifting.
Koite recorded one of his albums in Vermont. A video of a brief interview with Koite, and of him playing a song with his band, is at:
A video of Mahlasela performing live is at: