World-Renowned Malian Musician Claims JFK Airport TSA Agents Destroyed His Custom-Made Instrument

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Ballaké Sissoko is one of Mali’s most prominent musicians

A world-renowned kora player says that his custom-made instrument was ruined after going through TSA at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Ballaké Sissoko, one of Mali’s most prominent musicians, shared photos of his ruined kora and a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, blaming the “ignorance” of the TSA agents that handled it. The statement said that after Sissoko and his trio 3MA, which brings together string instruments from Mali, Morocco and Madagascar, concluded their recent tour in the United States, he boarded an overnight Air France flight back to Paris, where he lives, landing on February 4. “He checked in his kora, in its hard case, with its state-of-the-art amplification system, specially designed by sound engineer Julian Cooper,” the statement said. It wasn’t until Sissoko and arrived back at his home in Paris that he opened the kora case. When he did, “he was shocked and dismayed to find his kora in many pieces, with only a note from US customs – in Spanish, with the unfortunate motto: ‘Intelligent security saves time,’” the statement said, adding, “Not Ballaké’s time, for sure.”


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