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Dance Festival provides hope to hopeless land of Mali
Despite the fears of violence at the hands of fundamentalists, Bamako is holding a dance festival, apparently to lift the spirits of the locals.

NO ONE likes being stuck in traffic but in Mali's capital Bamako, for one week at least, normally frustrated drivers may be pleasantly surprised. As soon as the traffic light turns red, dancers perform a sequence by a South African choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba as part of the ninth international festival of Dance in Bamako.

The festival has started despite the fears of violence at the hands of fundamentalists who took over Mali seven months ago.

While talking to the AFP, choreographer Xaba said, “To see the crisis and to see that suddenly no one is here is devastating.”

Hundreds of visitors have flocked to watch performances by African and European dancers but while many welcomed the festival others believe it shouldn't be taking place at all. Ketty Noel, the Director of the Bamako Dance Festival said, “The festival has become very political since it is the only thing alive in the city. As for the 45 seconds in front of the red light traffic, some people say 'no, its not the time,' and others say 'it is'. I heard that myself.”

Islamci fundamentalists have imposed their version of Sharia law in northern Mali, an area the size of France. For south of Bamako it is a situation that Malians just can't forget. One member of the audience who sees hope in the festival at a hopeless time said, “It expresses the suffering. Everything that man can feel can feel through them.”

Residents in the South of the country are calling for military intervention in the North. While army chiefs discussed their next move, others welcomed the distraction of song and dance.

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