Salif Keita shares thoughts on burdens of albinism, music dedicated to Muhammad Ali, perception of Turkey in Africa
Salif Keita, one of the most popular African singers of the past century, praised Turkey’s human-centric approach to the African continent.
The Malian singer shared his thoughts with Anadolu Agency on the burden of albinism, his soundtrack dedicated to the legacy of US Muslim boxer Muhammad Ali and the perception of Turkey in Africa.
“I heard a lot about Turkey and it was always positive. I, myself, can also observe. Turkey’s human-centered approach and what it has done are especially important for Africa,” Keita said in Ankara where he performed at the Baskent (Capital) Culture Road Festival.
“Turkey’s name is heard well, not only in the world but also in Africa. I had the opportunity to meet many Turkish (people). We love Turks,” he said.
He noted his liking for Turkish music and expressed a willingness to work with Turkish artists in the future.
Burden of albinism
Keita founded The Salif Keita Global Foundation in 2015 and has fully dedicated himself at a global level to those with albinism — a condition widely discriminated against in Africa — after he retired from recording his final album, Un Autre blanc, or Another White, that was released in 2018.
“I was born albino and it was not easy at all and I tried to act with this awareness,” he said, adding that he had established the foundation to “back up especially children and everyone with albinism who cannot access education.”
“It’s not something that gives pleasure. You are not be welcomed well when you come into the world like this. You are born into a troublesome world not only in terms of health but also in social terms,” he said.
It was not even considered a problem before, he said, referring to the discrimination people with albinism face, but noted that today, being born with the condition is considered a problem.
Still, the perception of albinism across the world has improved in past years, he said.
“We can say that there has been a lot of change. People are seeking to find a way to deal with it.”
“It’s slowly changing, but of course, there has been a change and it is possible to say that great progress has been made today. Especially in school life, there were big problems in education. In this regard, there is now a more harmonious environment for albinos,” he said.
“I think I have made a great contribution,” with the foundation, he said. “Albinos are ostracized and slaughtered and even sacrificed. Very recently, we witnessed that five albinos were sacrificed for elections in Mali.”
“We need friends and allies to support us in this matter. We need people with whom we can cooperate with on this issue. When a leading figure demanded to sacrifice an albino, it would be carried out right away in that area. Now, this is heard and we announce it. Change will only be possible with these steps. We can get them punished. Previously, no penalty or sanction was applied.”
Soundtrack dedicated to Muhammad Ali
Regarding his soundtrack, “Tomorrow,” featured in the 2001 movie, “Ali,” which is based on the life of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali that, Keita said: “Muhammad Ali is also known as someone who defends people’s rights. He fought against racism. I was very happy when I was asked to make music for the documentary on the life and legend of Muhammad Ali.”
He also noted a common point he has with the boxer.
“I am white in appearance but my blood is black of course. Our blood is the same. He was fighting for a group who were exposed to racism and I am fighting for albinos. That’s why we have important similar points.”
He went on to say: “There is a message I have wanted to convey for over 40 years. I have a rebellious character. I never hide it either. There’s something I want to say to the world.”