Mali is a former French colony in West Africa that is landlocked and is currently on the verge of dividing into two landlocked countries, as occurred last year in Sudan. Bridgewater spent most of her time in Bamako, in the area still held by the government. In early 2012 the entire northeast -- including Tombouctou -- has become an increasingly unstable insurgent state.
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One of the most important stories is that of force marriage in Mali. It is still common -- giving Mali the third-highest rate of juvenile marriage in the world -- but is now illegal and starting to wane, based on the efforts of some of the musicians who came to Bridgewater's project. Because of their preliminary successes, she was convinced of the need to sing their story, though she had been reluctant at first. It is good that she is joining the effort, since the problem of forced marriage continues to plague the region.
It was interesting to find so much to appreciate in a Bridgewater story that initially has only the coincidence of a name to recommend it. As it turns out, the story resonates with much of what we find in our own community, through our growing connections in Africa and especially through the education and outreach of Khakatay, our West African drumming ensemble.