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29 July 2017 / leggypeggy

Memories of Africa and its music

Drummer in Mali

The drums of Africa make my heart sing. This guy was amazing

African xylophone

I’m guessing this would be considered a xylophone. See how it’s supported on two chairs

Memories of West Africa came flooding back yesterday as I listened to a local radio program introducing and playing the music of Songhoy Blues, a young and talented Tuareg band from northern Mali. Their amazing sounds and energy took me back to 2009 when Poor John and I spent almost a year travelling overland through Africa on the back of a truck—a very basic truck.

Mali was our sixth country on this African Trails journey—after Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Western Sahara (if you count that as a country) and Mauritania.

Our driver, Chris, who had already lived in Africa for five years and done this trip before, was passionate about Mali and its musicians. So he organised a band to come play at our campground in Bamako, the capital.

Mali band, Bamako

The band gets ready to play. That’s our tent in the background

It was a fabulous afternoon and night with great music.

Mali was one of our favourite African countries on that trip—we visited 30. We had the chance to travel to Timbuktu (by boat), the villages of Dogon Country (mostly on foot), Djenne (in the truck) and more.

It’s time for me to write more about Africa and the extraordinary time we had there, so I’ll be jumping around on my posts—more mixing of our current and past travels.

And now I’m heading out to buy a Songhoy Blues CD or two.

Malian drummer in red

Hope you can take the time to check out the music of Songhoy Blues and see if they make your heart sing


Leave a Comment
  1. derrickjknight / Jul 29 2017 9:06 pm

    30 countries. Wow!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete / Jul 29 2017 9:07 pm

    Good to see such happy memories of Mali. I recently read that Bamako is considered to be a dangerous place for westerners, but obviously not in your case.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. trE / Jul 29 2017 9:28 pm

    I smiled throughout the entire read. I long to have my heart dance from the beautiful sound of African drums.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 29 2017 9:39 pm

      I travelled and camped throughout Africa in the late 1970s. I heard the drums most nights. You don’t hear them as much now unless there’s a band. I can highly recommend the music of Songhoy Blues. It’s music of defiance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trE / Jul 29 2017 9:44 pm

        It sounds luring from your descriptions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 29 2017 10:02 pm

        So let us know if you listen to their music on YouTube.


  4. jeanleesworld / Jul 29 2017 10:08 pm

    You know me and music–it’s such a source of amazing experience, even if one is under siege by matchbox cars and Thomas the Tank Engine. 😉 Lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 29 2017 10:17 pm

      Thanks Jean. I’ll send you their CD if you can’t get it in the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Jul 31 2017 11:32 am

        Thank you so much! Let me see what I dig up first in this Midwestern music scene and get back to you here. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 31 2017 12:51 pm

        They have two CDs out—’Music in Exile’ and ‘Résistance’.


  5. dinosaursdonkeysandms / Jul 29 2017 10:50 pm

    Lovely post and photos. You can really feel the atmosphere from them. Makes me want to go! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Phil Huston / Jul 29 2017 11:27 pm

    When I see the pictures of your tent, I want to say “Get a room!” When I see what surrounds it I want to say “amazing.” Musicians pay real money to experience “World Music” and it’s doubtful they become as immersed as your tent. Other of us copy CDs from the library or buy old vinyl from Half Price Books and sample libraries form people who have been there and take those “write your own movie” vacations in our heads. Thanks for the postcards and words from where it’s real!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 7:57 am

      Between you and me—throughout Africa, our tent was often better than a room. Those dome tents are bug-proof.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. blondieaka / Jul 29 2017 11:29 pm

    Just listened to them on utube The tiny desk cool..Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lexklein / Jul 29 2017 11:34 pm

    My western Africa music experience is limited to Ghana, and I loved it. Any major regional differences that you know of?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:48 am

      I imagine there are lots of regional differences, but none that I could identify.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. chattykerry / Jul 29 2017 11:39 pm

    I love African music especially from Senegal and surrounding countries. I have a special love for North African music also (not the Habibi stuff). Great to read about your adventures as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. afterthelasttime / Jul 30 2017 1:04 am

    Thank you! Looks and sounds wonderful, Peggy! The xylophone reminds me of my African Xylophone I bought near your beach getaway on my trip to see you and brought Crystal!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:52 am

      That was a great trip when you and Crystal visited.


  11. susan@onesmallwalk / Jul 30 2017 1:04 am

    You say it as if it is such a simple thing: ‘spent almost a year travelling overland through Africa on the back of a truck’ – what an unusual and amazing experience that must have been. Somehow, you need to add ‘in a tent’, just for truth’s sake 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:55 am

      It was a wonderful experience, that wasn’t always easy. I look forward to sharing more of it here.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Paula / Jul 30 2017 1:38 am

    I listened to a few of their songs on You Tube. On one hand, I can hear the blues, but other songs reminded me of 70s funk. They’re very good. Thanks for sharing. And you are quite the adventurer!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 9:02 am

      You’re right about the blues/funk mix. The radio commentators pointed that out too.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Robert Parker Teel / Jul 30 2017 1:41 am

    This is great! I liked Ali Farka Touré, and a big fan of Omara “Bombino” Moctar, who’s also Tuareg, glad to learn of this band!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 9:08 am

      Ali Farka Touré was my introduction to Malian music. I bought several of the band’s CDs when I was in Mali.


  14. Yeah, Another Blogger / Jul 30 2017 2:31 am

    Hello Peggy. I enjoyed this essay a lot. Mali is somewhere I’d like to visit, but probably won’t get to.

    In the Philadelphia USA suburbs two nights ago I saw in concert a fantastic band from Congo. Mbongwana Star is their name.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 / Jul 30 2017 3:56 am

    Sounds like a great trip. Heart warming memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. spearfruit / Jul 30 2017 6:59 am

    Some great memories – I look forward to your upcoming posts Peggy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Dorothy / Jul 30 2017 7:18 am

    You are a real intrepid traveller Peggy. I loved the music of West Africa too but we had nice company accommodation and went to the night clubs to enjoy the music. Havent been in a tent since I was in girl guides.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 9:13 am

      I’ve spent a lot of time in tents over the last eight years.


      • annabelletroy / Jul 30 2017 10:16 am

        How do u stay so healthy when traveling to such exotic places? In spite of having all my shots, I caught superbug in India that had me coughing for years. And an acquaintance of mine spent months in hospital after working with families in Africa. I would love to go to West Africa one day; but how do you manage your health?


      • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 9:40 pm

        I think some of my immunity comes from my 16 months in Egypt in 1976–77. I was so sick for three weeks at the beginning, and yet have never been sick again since then. Or I inherited my paternal grandmother’s cast-iron gut. Or both.


  18. Alison and Don / Jul 30 2017 1:10 pm

    That must have been an amazing time! Almost a year! I can’t even begin to imagine. I did an overland trip by truck and camping from Johannesburg to London with Encounter Overland in 1980. Four months and 13 countries. It was a lifetime highlight, but 4 months was enough. I look forward to more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:28 pm

      Poor John did an African overland in 1973. I did one in 1977. We always said we’d do one together. Absolutely no regrets, even if our entourage was a rather dysfunctional collection. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Brian Lageose / Jul 30 2017 2:10 pm

    I’m sure you’re growing a little weary of the “30 countries in one year!” comments, but I can’t help but react to that. I don’t think I’ve been to 30 countries in my entire life. Maybe I should stop going back to the same places all the time, that might help my list grow a bit… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:33 pm

      The African trip was a mixed bag. We had almost a month in some countries and less than a week in others. But every place offered something new. Still the most incredible trip I’ve ever done. And I’d quite happily do it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. paolsoren / Jul 30 2017 5:56 pm

    My sister and her husband have spent the last forty five years in Ethiopia and they have an undying love for that part of Africa. But I am so sad when I look at the happy smiling faces of Africans in some parts and the horror that is in others. And this difference is seen on the streets of Melbourne with some happy families and some not so happy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 30 2017 8:37 pm

      Ethiopia was another of our favourite countries in Africa. But I agree with your sadness about photos showing happy and horror in Africa. So much we can’t fix.

      Liked by 1 person

    • rhythminlife / Aug 13 2017 1:46 pm

      Thank you for noticing what most visitors never notice. You are very right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 13 2017 3:03 pm

        Every day of this trip we saw the realities that are Africa. Corruption is at the top of the list for fixing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rhythminlife / Aug 13 2017 10:36 pm

        Absolutely. Growing it hurt so deep to see how bad corruption was. Seeing an expecting mother die from child labor just because they didn’t have enough money to pay for services to be worked on and more……And I know all governments have their flaws but I yet I have seen our African countries lead in this area.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Aug 13 2017 10:50 pm

        I didn’t want to like your comment, but I wanted you to know I saw it. Where are you from in Africa? Botswana is one place that seems quite stable and progressive because the residents are from the same tribe. So tribalism may have a lot to answer for.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rhythminlife / Aug 14 2017 11:32 am

        I understand Miss Peggy 😁. I am from Uganda East Africa. Yes tribalism has so much impact in politics in Uganda as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Author: Sadaf Siddiqi. / Jul 30 2017 8:08 pm

    Great coverage of your trip.


  22. Shiva Malekopmath / Jul 30 2017 10:32 pm

    This is amazing and the Music of Africa just wonderful.
    I will try to get Songhoy Blues on YouTube.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 31 2017 12:56 pm

      I’m sure you can find them on You Tube. Cheers


  23. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jul 31 2017 9:26 am

    I’m envious of your ability to travel so much – at least I can see the world through your eyes.
    Hope you’re feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 31 2017 12:57 pm

      I know how lucky we are to be able to travel so extensively. And feel privileged to have the chance to share it widely too.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Chris Riley / Jul 31 2017 1:05 pm

    I love your ability to pick jthe right photos, and the right words to transport us just a little, taking us for a glimpse into the world through your eyes. You enable us to enjoy some of your amazing travels with you. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 31 2017 1:25 pm

      Thanks so much Chris. I appreciate you traveling along with us. Oh, and choosing the right photo is a lot easier when you take way too many to begin with! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Anita / Jul 31 2017 11:02 pm

    Happy to discover via images one of african music, that is so amazing
    thank you so much dear for great sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 1 2017 7:10 am

      You are most welcome Anita. Kisses back to you.


  26. Green Global Trek / Aug 1 2017 4:28 am

    Thirty African countries in a year. Wow. That is impressive. I will have to look at your archives when I have the time. We are hoping to get to Africa early next year.. it will be my first time back in almost twenty years (I grew up in South Africa). Great post. Nothing like the beat and tunes of AFFFRIKKA


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 1 2017 7:15 am

      Thanks, although I must say you that you won’t find much here on Africa just yet. That trip was before I started this blog. I plan to start adding posts soon—has to be before I forget.


  27. Curt Mekemson / Aug 1 2017 9:49 am

    One of my best friends did the Africa in the back of a truck in the late 70s, Peggy. And I of course served there as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1965-67. So I am excited about your series. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  28. daisymae2017 / Aug 2 2017 2:35 am

    Certain Music makes me happy. Nice post and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. vagabondurges / Aug 4 2017 6:21 am

    So magnificent how music can take us back to places and memories, thank you for sharing this memory and this music!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Gilda Baxter / Aug 4 2017 5:01 pm

    In Brazil we have a strong African influence in the music, I have always loved the strong, invigorating sound of the drums. I would love to visit Africa, doing an overland trip like you did must have been amazing? I would love to hear more about your trip😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 6 2017 10:50 pm

      I’m working on an introductory post for that trip. Highly recommended trip. And yes, I spent a couple of months in Brazil and am aware of the African influences.


  31. Meg / Aug 4 2017 5:56 pm

    I really want to visit Africa! It’s definitely on my bucket list…how did you find the perceptions of India before you went in comparison to the reality? Take a look at my blog at

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 7 2017 4:29 pm

      Hope you get to Africa soon. In India, the biggest surprise for me was just how much wildlife is there to see. I look forward to checking out your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Chris / Aug 6 2017 1:55 am

    Good one Peggy, they certainly livened up the evening, Can’t really remember the spit roast goat but am sure it was a good feed.


    • leggypeggy / Aug 6 2017 10:50 pm

      Thanks Chris. I was such a great day–night,, and the goat was excellent.


  33. kkessler833 / Aug 6 2017 8:56 am

    Great post!


  34. Miriam / Aug 6 2017 8:59 am

    What an amazing experience. Look forward to reading more of your memories and sharing in more of the music of the land. Thanks for making me smile!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 6 2017 10:51 pm

      Your comment made me smile in return. I look forward to sharing more of this incredible trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. flavours2017 / Aug 6 2017 7:27 pm

    Must have been a wow experience — at least reading yr posts I get to know about so many countries ❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  36. rhythminlife / Aug 13 2017 1:45 pm

    Absolutely beautiful!!. I love the sound and depth of African drums. I always laugh at the fact that my husband tried drumming as a way to impress this African girl before we started dating; this was funny but cute to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. thesignaregriotte / Aug 16 2017 3:28 am

    My husband and I plan to road trip throughout Africa as well. As an African historian it’s not only my dream it will be my job! I’m so thrilled. Looking forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 16 2017 8:13 am

      Delighted to have you follow along. I hope my posts are of some help to you and your husband.


  38. Laleh Chini / Aug 22 2017 10:02 pm

    Good thanks


  39. African Paradise World / Sep 2 2017 9:58 pm

    Very interesting. Good for sharing this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. dawnwairimu / Sep 11 2017 2:53 am

    How exciting, I would love to travel there! Looks beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Solenoidbeatz / Sep 14 2017 9:23 pm

    Africa is truly amazing.I speak of experience living in ye southern point of Africa.. Was really nice to read your post.If you guys ate interested in hearing african deephouse downtempo chilled music check out my music blog post

    Liked by 1 person

  42. j_boff / Oct 14 2017 3:24 pm

    West Africa is the BEST. I spent a month in Burkina Faso. I also fell in the with the music there. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 15 2017 1:58 pm

      We loved Burkina Faso too. I remember a concert there and torrential rain and winds. One tent blew away.


  43. efge63 / Jan 17 2018 9:09 pm

    Thank you !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  44. WamblingWabbitsRambling / Feb 16 2018 9:37 am

    It’s enjoyable to be able to scroll through looking at things I’m unfamiliar with, it helps give a sense of the different cultures in the world and I enjoy the way you share your experiences. I look forward to browsing through even more of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Memories of Africa and its music — Where to next? – MR HARRYSON CHITAPU
  2. Memories of Africa and its music — Where to next? – standardmusicgroup
  3. Memories of Africa and its music — Where to next? – Site Title

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