Every once in a while you come across heartwarming stories of human beings who overcome great adversity to become successful, powerful and influential. Such is the story of Salif Keita, a Mali born afro-pop musician whose journey from being an outcast due to his condition to being a music maestro dubbed ‘The Golden Voice of Africa’ is nothing short of remarkable.
Salif Keita was born in 1949 to two African parents as an Albino child in Mali West Africa. Very little was known then about this skin pigmentation condition with many Africans associating it with witchcraft.
65 years later and Salif Keita is one of the most celebrated and sought after African Musicians with 20 albums to his name.
While many people now know that Salif Keita is a person with Albinism, not many are aware of the odds he had to beat as a young child due to it, as well as the fact that his family was royalty in Mali which prohibited him from lowering his stature to become a griot. In Mali, like in many other African countries, Albinism is often taken as a bad omen and children born with it are often ostracized by family and society. There are even unfortunate cases of albinos being killed by their own or by members of the larger society due to these misplaced beliefs. Salif therefore unfortunately grew up with a sense of alienation, something which could easily have killed his spirit.
With life offering such few options, Salif turned to his God given gift of music and excelled in it over time even choosing to leave his home to pursue his dream of becoming a musician.
Alongside his successful music career, he has championed the recognition and dignity of persons with albinism all his life through The Salif Keita Global Foundation, a non-profit organization that highlights the plight of albinos, raises funds for their free healthcare and advocates for their rights and social acceptance. In a powerful combination of his music and his voice for albinos, he produced his award winning album Le’ Difference in 2009.
Salif Keita is coming to Kenya as the headline performer at the Safaricom Jazz Festival in a concert at the Bomas of Kenya on 29th August. Afro-pop lovers, jazz lovers or just lovers of good music in general are assured of a good time if past Safaricom Jazz Festival events are anything to go by. Tickets to the concert are going for Kshs.1,500/- in advance and Kshs.2000/- at the gate. Students have a special price of Kshs.500/-
To get advance tickets via M-ticketing, dial 1511. You can also purchase a physical ticket at Michael Joseph Centre as well as Village Market, Nakumat Mega, TRM, Junction, Galleria, I&M, and Sarit Center.
Proceeds of The Safaricom Jazz Festival are in support of the great cause that is Ghetto classics – a community program in Korogocho slums that works to nurture youngsters through music. This they do by instilling in them the life skills that go hand in hand with the discipline of studying the art of music. This very noble course gives the children a positive outlook on life and boosts their self-confidence and determination to succeed in life despite their backgrounds. Furthermore, the program also provides them with income generating opportunities. The Ghetto classics community program involves over 300 children.