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Damon Albarn named ‘local king’ of Malian village

By | Published on Monday 22 February 2016

Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn has been named ‘local king’ of the village of Kirina in Mali, in recognition of his work with musicians in the country.

BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ reports that Albarn was recently presented with the honour at a ceremony at music and dance school L’Ecole de Musique de Kirina. Given a new Malian name, Makenjan Kanisoko, a classroom in the school was also named after him.

The brother of the school’s founder Mahamadou Diabaté, musician Toumani Diabaté, explains: “Damon is not from Africa, but he needs to be like a king of these Griot people”.

Albarn added: “I’m not used to this sort of thing, but it’s fantastic to see this schoolroom. It’s a school dedicated to music and dance, [and] that’s where’s my heart is. So my heart is here”.

Opened in 2009, L’Ecole de Musique de Kirina offers classes in a range of traditional instruments and dance. It’s location, about 25 miles outside the capital city Bamako, was chosen because Kirina has been a centre for the preservation of Malian traditional culture for more than 700 years.