I met Djali (Kanoute Djelimakan) in eastern Sicily in the Summer of 2017 when he joined a music workshop I was co-leading with Francesco Iannuzzelli. He sang as naturally as many of us speak. I discovered that he is constantly writing songs, because this is the way he reflects on everything around him.

Djali was born into a griot family in Mali. Both his parents were musicians. He crossed the desert in 2013 and the Mediterranean Sea in 2015.  He now lives and works in Siracusa.

His song ‘Mayoumako’ – the title is Bambara for ‘Strange things’ – is about his journey. To hear the full song, and to listen to Djali on video footage, come to our London launch event on 30 June. The song will be published in June on the first CD collection of Today is Good. Djali translated the lyrics from Bambara into Italian, and I have translated them into English below.

Strange Things

Strange things, strange things
Many escape from war and from family problems
I had nothing through which to make a life
The road is difficult, a long and difficult journey

To cross the desert is a strange thing
I passed some countries
There are good people and bad people
African kids are working as slaves
In those countries there are rich people, but they are also bad people
The Africans are tired
The kids make all this effort and some relatives know nothing about it
You have to think about your family
Don’t forget your father and don’t forget your mother

Strange things, strange things

Some of us, when we have a little money
forget all our relatives, it is not good
It is not easy to get money but even when they get it,
They start to throw it away
Some people are poor, they have nothing and cannot buy anything to eat
You must always think of the ones that are poor.


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