Musicians are in the firing line as insurgent Islamists impose sharia law on two-thirds of the country.
In northern Mali, religious war has been declared on music.
Getting to Timbuktu isn't a world-famous joke for nothing, as Lerato Mogoatlhe found out.
Lloyd Gedye and photographer Lisa Skinner visited the world's most remote music festival.
Survival for some families depends on using the slickest sales pitch in the desert, writes Lloyd Gedye
The Festival in the Desert is a gathering of the nomadic Tuareg people from the Sahara desert, in which they celebrate their through song and dance.