A Sad Day in Kirina

A Sad Day in Kirina: Youssoufou passed away.

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A couple of months ago we started a new program at the Kirina Music School: traditional history.

Our teacher was Youssoufou Kamissoko, a 90-year-old wise man who was a descendant of the founders of Kirina. He knew perfectly the long history of Kirina and the history of Mali in general. Every week he traveled to the music school to tell the history of Kirina, and of the Malian Empire to all the village. I say “all the village” because it was not only students from the music school that attended Youssoufou’s classes. Teachers from the public school attended; villagers– men and women eager to learn more about their deep roots attended. We filmed some of these classes in order to document his knowledge and some of the stories he told.

This morning Youssoufou passed away, and with him, a whole heritage has gone. As they say in Mali: “when an old man dies, a whole library disappears…” In a country where the life expectancy is 54 years, to live 90 years is a real accomplishment. I remember interviewing Youssoufou about the creation of the music school. From the beginning of the project, he had always been one of the most enthusiastic people in the village. He told me that he knew that the music school was going to have an international impact, and that in the near future students from other countries where going to come to Kirina to study music at the school.

We are doing our best to honor his words and his commitment for the transmission of African cultural knowledge at the school. Youssoufou, thank you from the bottom of our hearts: we’ll never forget you and you’ve been a true inspiration for the whole village, and for all the people involved in that project.


Click here to watch “Dreams of Kirina,” a beautiful episode we filmed with with Baaba Maal in Kirina, Mali.