Mali is a landlocked country in the western part of the Sahara. The mainstays of the economy are agriculture and fishing. It was an important part of the trade route through the Sahara – nomadic tribes form an important part of the culture.
The main aim of the festival is to celebrate its traditions – most of them rooted in Touareg culture. Festivities such as Takoubelt in the city of Kidal and Temakannit in Timbuktu reflect the decision making process and exchange of information between different communities. One can expect to hear songs and poetry and participate in dances, games and camel rides.
The organizers wanted to combine modernity and tradition while being present to outside influences. The aim is to preserve and present the culture of the desert – by listening and recognizing traditional values of hospitality and tolerance. The first two years, the focus was on the nomadic way of life. The festival was a huge success and from 2003 on, the venue was shifted to Essakane to accommodate more people. This is done in the hope that this event will bring more tourists to Mali and promote local development and create jobs.
The Festival welcomes artists not only from different regions of the country but also other African nations. People from Europe and the world also show up to participate. Through the duration of the 3 day festival – 30+ artist groups present their music and art, which they enjoy doing in a non commercial atmosphere.