One Nation Under a Groove

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Lively Bamako, the capital of Mali, might not have shops selling the latest iPods, but its streets spill over with tunes played by some of West Africa's greatest musicians. This city of 1 million lives for music. By day, battered taxis blare out foot-stomping beats, while old men cross roads with radios glued to their ears. By night, Bamako is a riot of noise as singers ululate at wedding parties and the city's many music venues crank up the bass.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is more than a little flavor of Cuba here — partly due to...

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