They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile


In honor of Songhoy Blues’ Tiny Desk Concert, let’s take a look at a movie profile originally posted at the Global Elite Music Radio Podcast Supershow’s site on July 11, 2018.

Islamic Extremist/Jihadists seized control of Northern Mali in 2012. The imposed a brutal regime of extremist Sharia Law. All forms of music were banned. Instruments were burned, radio stations were demolished and musicians faced torture and even death. 

But Mali has a deep musical heritage. 

Though many musicians became part of a Malian diaspora, fearing for their lives, they continue to shine a light on injustice through their music. This film chromicles the continued struggle for and power of music. Director Johanna Schwartz says: "I remember very clearly reading about what was happening. I couldn’t imagine a world without music, especially in a place where music was so vital to everyday life. I began to plan my trip to Mali almost immediately."

The Guardian says:

“Director Johanna Schwartz’s documentary, clearly made with devotion over several years, unpacks how several different Malian musicians struggle to survive the privations and strains of civil war, and especially their grief and horror over the way jihadist rebels banned all music-making the north of the country.”

  • Visit the film's official website

  • Purchase or rent the movie at Amazon