Bambara Blues

A respected woman from Mali uses the song tradition of the griots to educate the population of a mining community on HIV/AIDS.

When Ami Diarra asks a group of men in Mali some questions about HIV/AIDS, they hardly react. When she informs them that there is only one medicine for AIDS - a condom - they seem to understand what she is saying, but the prevailing answer is "We've heard of them, but we've never seen one."

Ami sees it as her mission to educate the residents of a mining town on AIDS, and Bambara Blues follows her while she organizes an informational meeting on the disease. Because of her respected position as a griot - a West-African musician considered to be protector and narrator of the oral tradition and history - she succeeds in reaching many people. Unfortunately, the authorities will not take her seriously, as we witness when she asks the local health centre to support her campaign. Apparently, they will only work with NGOs. Filmmaker Jacqueline van Vugt interlaces the remarkable story of Ami Diarra with the lives of the other women in the mining town. She captures the plight of foreign prostitutes and the struggles with traditions such as female circumcision and arranged marriage - problems that Ami would very much like to solve with her song and dedication.

70', Viewpoint Productions. 2007

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