BAMAKO. – Mali’s much-beloved Salif Keïta – known as the Golden Voice of Africa – has been appointed as a special adviser to coup leader Col Assimi Goïta.
The 73-year-old might be in semi-retirement and eclipsed nowadays by Afrobeats stars, but he was one of the pioneering giants of a generation that put African music on the global map.
After 50 successful years in the music industry, he remains influential, admired and well-known.
Keïta mixes traditional Mandé music with jazz, blues and Western music styles and was nominated several times for a Grammy for his infectious melodies and powerful voice.
He has albinism − and he has campaigned tirelessly against discrimination.
In 2005, the musician set up the Salif Keïta Global Foundation to raise awareness of the condition and speak out against a perception in some African countries that albinism is an ill omen. People with albinism are often shunned and bullied – as Keïta was as a child − and in some countries, like Burundi and Tanzania, they are killed or body parts cut off and used in rituals. Keïta’s dream as a child was to be a teacher − but he was denied the opportunity and told he “would scare the children”.
Keïta has raised funds from his concerts and donated proceeds of his record sales to his foundation to help with medical assistance of people with albinism − who are more prone to skin cancer and poor eyesight because of their genetic condition.
He has also expressed doubts about Western-style democracy working in African countries.
“Democracy is not a good thing for Africa,” he told the UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2019.
“To have a democracy, people have to understand democracy, and how can people understand when 85 percent of the people in the country cannot read or write?” On 31 July, Keïta stepped down from the NTC − he cited “purely personal reasons” while reiterating that he would remain an “unquestionable ally” of the soldiers, but did not mention Col Goïta.
But on 11 August Keïta accepted what was in effect a promotion − the post of special adviser on cultural affairs. − Agencies./