Ségou is the prestigious capital of the former Bambara Kingdom, on the banks of the Niger River, in the heart of West Africa. The richness of its architecture, the charm of the banks of the river, the richness of its history as well as the natural courtesy of its inhabitants have made it for years a major tourist destination, endowed with good hotel infrastructures, restaurants and others attractive activities linked to the river.
Ségou asserts itself today as a cultural capital in Mali, multiplying initiatives as: Ségou ’Art-Festival sur le Niger, the Centre Culturel Kôrè, the Festival of Masks and Puppets of Markala, the Ndomo Center, the Sinignessigi Center, AFATT, the Nyeleni Center, the Soroblé Center, etc.
Agglomeration of nearly 130 000 inhabitants, Ségou has the advantages of an important, cultural and structured city. Despite this true potential, Ségou remained a city of passage which offered few concrete perspectives to its young artists and cultural entrepreneurs. The phenomenon of centralization of the cultural life in the capital city Bamako and, at the same time, the lack of opportunities for artists to perform, disseminate their works and acquire skills in their own country or even on the African continent, produce the effects of unexpected flight abroad and / or abandonment of careers.
The Festival sur le Niger was born from an initiative of Mamou DAFFE and his team to create a unique event, highlighting, all the attractive cultural potential of the city and the region in order to support the local economy and promote artistic and cultural expressions of Mali, while ensuring that people no longer stop only in Segou as a stopover before Mopti and the Dogon country, but that they come to Ségou through the development of an ambitious cultural and artistic offer.
Since its first edition in 2005, the Festival sur le Niger has quickly become a major cultural event, on an unprecedented scale in Mali and unparalleled in West Africa, a real annual cultural event that takes place every year, early February in Ségou. Today, the Festival can boast of being an original program with a global dimension.
As a multidisciplinary event, the Festival sur le Niger offers a program focused on music, an art fair, dance, theater, a craft and agricultural fair, a symposium, workshops, master classes and conferences...
The contemporary scene mixes with traditional events, internationally renowned artists meet young talents...
Beyond the artistic aspect but also the festive aspect of the event, the Festival is above all a sure instrument of economic development of the region but also of Mali, which through the symposium of Ségou and the various conferences pushes reflection on the various cultural and social issues and challenges of the country and the training of cultural professionals.
The festival had a significant impact on mentalities in Ségou. And Segovians are very proud of the interest in their city, its history and culture. The people who take ownership of the event are now committed to its success and look forward to each edition. Economically, the benefits are indisputable. The participation of festival-goers (40 000 festival-goers) considerably increases activity and the entire economy benefits from this increase (hotel owners, restaurant owners, traders, transporters, street vendors, breeders, market gardeners, etc.). A large number of temporary or permanent jobs are created.
On the environmental level, the 2006 festival was the initiative for the creation of the Niger River Observatory in Ségou, which contributes to safeguarding the river by collecting and disseminating data, raising public awareness and promoting initiation of safeguard actions. Other such initiatives take place each year, such as the “Quartier proper” competition. Artistically, the festival has managed to bring together the great figures of the continent’s art (Abdoulaye KONATE, Yacouba KONATE, Cheick DIALLO, Simon NJAMI, Siriki KY, Ludovic FADAIRO, Soly CISSE, Barthelemy TOGUO, etc.), and the best performances through a rich and diversified musical program, in the best possible technical conditions with its 5 stages. The references are eloquent: Ali Farka TOURE, Salif KEITA, Oumou SANGARE, Femi KUTI, Amadou et Mariam, Baaba MAAL, Toumani DIABATE, Tinariwen, Sékouba BAMBINO, Ismaël LO, CheickTidiane SECK, Les Go of Koteba, Les Amazones of Guinea, etc.
Without forgetting the essential presence of traditional events from the region, but also and increasingly from Mali and beyond. Segou ’Art-Festival sur le Niger has also opened its Young Talent Discovery Stage to artists from other continents as part of exchanges with some of its partners.
In the fifteenth edition in February 2019, the festival reinvented itself with a successful coupling of the Festival sur le Niger and Segou ’Art, and becomes Segou’ Art-Festival sur le Niger, a more creative festival of music and art, with over 95 performances during the week and 250 000 visitors to the craft fair.