Songhoy Blues – ‘Barré’

With ‘Barré‘ (Change), the Malian quartet Songhoy Blues just released the unofficial anthem for the Malian political transition after the recent coup d’état. In the track they criticize the old political elite and advocate for a generational change. “We are tired, exhausted, we have struggled/ Now, change is essential for development”. The lyrics illustrate the economic and social consequences of state failure, malfunctioning institutitons, a corrupt system and a greedy elite.

For years, things keep repeating themselves
For months, the same things keep repeating themselves
Corruption and injustice have become the law
Some eat anything they like
While others starve to death
Some have full bank accounts
While others don’t even have bread

They voice out a demand, which youths in many African countries feel. Although they represent a critical proportion of their societies, youths in many African countries do not yet have the political power and thus cannot influence policies according to their needs. Instead of waiting until they are being given the chance, Songhoy Blues ask the youth to stand up:

Youth! Let’s rise for this change!
Just as Yesterday knew how to welcome Today,
Just as Spring knew how to welcome Summer,
And Summer knew how to welcome Winter,
Old age must welcome Youth.


Talking about the band’s motivation to write the song, band member Aliou Touré told Thelineofbestfit:””Barremeans change. We need change. In the song we are inviting youth to get involved in politics and government to bring about change because they understand the actual challenges we face today. That’s the only way. The problem in Mali is guys from the 1960s are still around and control everything. It’s like how yesterday gave today a chance, today needs to give tomorrow a chance.”

‘Barré’ is the third pre-released track of their forthcoming LP ‘Optimisme‘ via Fat Possum Records, coming out on October 23rd.

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