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

I am in awe of this event and the documentary that has been made about it–and so far I’ve only seen the trailer.


A friend of mine who knew about The Legend of Rock messaged me with this link a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it since. I showed it to my students, and I forwarded it to other friends, and I kept replaying it for myself for both inspiration and perspective.

I am writing an alternate-history science fiction series about how Western music could be used as a weapon and as (forgive the heavy-handed expression) the world’s salvation. For me, The Legend of Rock started with the question, “What would happen if a Jukebox Hero and a Pinball Wizard got into a fight?” and it grew from there, into a world that felt bigger and more important than me. People who have read the first few episodes or have heard about the series arc have commented that it seems important–that The Legend of Rock is a story that needs to be told.

And then, recently, I was confronted with this realcurrent story of people fighting against music oppression. (Is humbled even the right word?) I was stuck by the importance of their situation, and I felt like the fantasy I’d created was very trivial by comparison. Okay, so it is trivial by comparison–but not as an absolute. I think the story I’m telling can still be important, possibly moreso because of the real events to which it might relate.

One of the cool things about writing about any kind of freedom is that the stories feel worthwhile. I know I’ll sound terribly high-horse-ish saying this, but the fact of the matter is that the right story at the right time can really change someone’s perspective–if not, it could still offer inspiration that leads to the life-changing discoveries. As an English teacher, I know that teenagers can be [incredibly] shortsighted, and often won’t look beyond their own lives or the fantasies their presented. So let’s give them powerful, inspirational, moral, complex, and occasionally brutal fantasies to force them to question the world, and try to open their eyes to realities like those shown in this documentary whenever possible.

I hope that awesome people keep making bold choices to fight for their rights, that other awesome people document it and show the world; meanwhile, I’ll do my best to support them through classroom instruction and the fiction I write.

#review #malian #musicinexile #Trailer #ban #music #responsibility #teaching #mali #freedom #documentary #Theywillhavetokillusfirst #fiction #Writing

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