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Filming Music is Preserving Music! Instruments 4 Africa brings threatened West African musical traditions to life

Filming Music is Preserving Music!
Instruments 4 Africa brings threatened West African musical traditions
to life with their vital short films

Paul Chandler and team interview a village leader in Mali

Paul Chandler and team interview a village leader in Mali


What if the very last musician in Mali to be trained on the Mandinka warrior’s harp, the Bolon, was never recorded? Or a ceremony passed down for generations goes unperformed for 20 years? We, the world, would lose a valuable, irreplaceable part of our heritage certainly, but so would the local culture. This is what makes Instruments 4 Africa’s work filming, preserving and documenting the musical/cultural heritage of West Africa so critical!


According to Instruments 4 Africa co-founder, Paul Chandler,

“WhT160K instruments 4 africa childrens troupeen the kids see the village preparing for these ceremonies, they get interested in spite of themselves. The whole village gets involved, and the kids see their elders in a new light. […] And when they see these movies played on the same screens where they see American Rap videos and Brazilian Soap Operas, they see that their own culture has real value.”


Instruments 4 Africa works to empower underprivileged and at-risk youth through academic and cultural educational opportunities. In addition to their film work they organize events and create spaces that bring people together with the common goal of mending the social fabric of today’s Mali through shared artistic expression, culture, and history, emphasizing Malian’s similarities and their long-standing tradition of tolerance.

Today, Instruments4Africa already has the footage for their next series of documentaries. Paul and his team have used private funding to keep the work going for now, but this temporary fix is not sustainable. We want to help them complete production of these videos so Instruments4Africa can release them to the worldwide public. They need $2,400 per video to cover production, including editing, sound, translation, and subtitles. With dozens of languages commonly-spoken in Mali, translation alone is a significant effort. This is where T160K comes in!

 T160K instruments 4 africa two men instrument Sotuba06_smaller

T160k is a Washington State Social Purpose Corporation that’s dedicated to using technology to help create communities around exciting cultural work in Africa and to contribute resources to this work. The organization allows people to learn about projects through the web site and to contribute funds to them. Supporters receive perks in return for their support, ranging from the satisfaction of a simple “thank you” to the opportunity to meet the people and take part in the work on the ground in Africa.


If you’d like more information about T160K, Instruments 4 Africa or any of our other projects/campaigns, or to schedule an interview with Stephanie, Tony or Naomi please email or send us a Tweet @T160K.



Stephanie Diakité, EVP:

For many years, Stephanie Diakité, T160K founder and Vice President for Everything, has been working as a transformational development specialist in more than 40 sub-Saharan African countries. She concentrates on building capacity in key areas of human rights based socio-economic development where culture and gender play decisive roles. You can find out more about her work and share your ideas and contributions on her websites at and


To support the safeguarding of the scholarship contained in the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu subsequent to the political and social upheaval that rocked Mali between 2012 and 2013, Stephanie began T160K – the Timbuktu Libraries in Exile Knowledge Initiative in collaboration with her friend and colleague Abdel Kader Haidara of SAVAMA DCI.


She and Abdel Kader evacuated more than 400,000 manuscripts from Timbuktu and T160K successfully implemented a crowd sourcing activity to raise funds for urgent conservation work in the corpus of evacuated manuscripts. These experiences motivated Stephanie to increase the scope of T160K to enable people world-wide to support a large variety cultural patrimony and heritage initiatives and the principles of human rights based culture and sustainable development.


Stephanie may be reached at for interview requests or further info.



Tony Dowler, CEO:

A Seattle-based consultant, writer, and artist, Tony Dowler became involved in crowdfunding as a way to support his own creative projects and those of others. In 2013, he organized T160k’s successful crowdfunding campaign to help fund the preservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts.


Before joining T160k, Tony worked for 15 years as a technical marketing consultant and writer. In his spare time, Tony enjoys drawing, painting, board games, and playing the banjo. You can follow him on Twitter at @t160kTony.


Tony may be reached at for interview requests or further info.


Naomi House, CMO:

Naomi comes to T160k after a decade in libraries and information centers and after founding the popular LIS (library and information science) jobs site, INALJ grew from 6 subscribers to 9 million page views in a few short years through grassroots marketing campaigns and community building, things that drew her to T160k and its community. She is excited to be able to share projects she is passionate about and looks forward to building this community and sharing the incredible projects of our partners. Find her @T160k and @T160kNaomi.
In addition to her work community building Naomi is a frequent presenter and keynote speaker. She has spoken at the National Press Club and Library of Congress, both in Washington, D.C., the American University in the Emirates, Dubai, UAE, in Alaska and Hawaii and presented over 40 other places as well. In fact, Naomi and T160k founder Stephanie Diakité, met in February of 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa when they served on the same breakout panel at a library conference (Stephanie was also the keynote speaker). That chance meeting and a long bus ride back from dinner sparked a conversation and Naomi’s involvement in T160K. Kismet!
Naomi is active in many professional associations including, Ellevate Network, ALA (American Library Association), SLA (Special Libraries Association), Women in Technology, and Beta Phi Mu.


Naomi may be reached at for interview requests or further info.


Paul Chandler, Founder, Instruments 4 Africa:                                                                                  

Based in Bamako, Mali, West Africa, Paul is an artist, educator and music producer living and teaching in Mali since 2003.  Paul’s music program at the American International School of Bamako fused western theory and pedagogy with traditional music acquisition, learning and instrumentation. The program included an artist in residence program featuring some of Mali’s most accomplished artists.


He has produced events and organized projects in Mali for National Geographic, NY Times, Carnegie Hall, USAID, Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg School of Public Health, US Department of State, UNICEF, APE Artists Project Earth, ABC, National Museum of Mali, Ministry of Culture (Mali), ICRISAT, and BONO’s non-profit organization DATA.


In 2011 Paul was awarded a research grant by the Bureau of Cultural and Education Affairs titled: Preservation of Endangerd Musical Traditions and Essential Related Artforms in Mali. In 2013 he was awarded a grant to produce peace and reconciliation cultural festivals in the northern regions of Mali.
Find Paul @maliculture and on i4africa’s Facebook page.
Photos and video that may be used with permission:

Attribution for all photos: Paul Chandler & Instruments4Africa

3 thoughts on “Filming Music is Preserving Music! Instruments 4 Africa brings threatened West African musical traditions to life

  1. Pingback: “Culture is disappearing like wildlife: masks, music, instruments” |

  2. Pingback: The Cataloging of the Libraries of Timbuktu has Begun! |

  3. Pingback: “Culture is disappearing like wildlife: masks, music, instruments” |

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