Rebels with a cause – and plenty of joy

  • @Elisabray

The sixth African Soul Rebels package tour brings together three of Africa's most radical artists, Oumou Sangare, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo and the Kalahari Surfers.

It is the first major UK tour for Sangare, the queen of Wassoulou music and one of Mali's biggest stars. Sangare invited the bands to join her because the three groups share a common goal in portraying African cultural richness to the rest of the world.

For Sangare, there are other messages in her music: "My own cause is, and has always been women's rights, and the rights of children. I want to both fight against hardship and inequalities but also show that there are strong African women with me in this struggle, and that we are making a difference. It's true that when I sing it's joyful, but in among that joy I always take the opportunity to slip in messages that educate my nation and my country (and beyond, when I go on tour). Where I come from, that's very important. It's true that people are happy to just listen to music, but they're also interested in what the person is actually saying with the music."

It is also the first UK tour for Benin's voodoo rockers Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – despite their 45 years as a band – and a rare sighting for Kalahari Surfers, who, since their 1984 debut album, have been censored at home in South Africa.

On tour until 3 March