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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 12:16 GMT
Storm delays Mali star's funeral
Coffin in Bamako
Musicians and mnisters have paid their respects in Bamako
The funeral of one of Africa's best known musicians, Ali Farka Toure, has been delayed until Thursday.

A sandstorm meant it was not possible to fly his body the 850km from the capital, Bamako to his northern home town of Niafunke, where he was mayor.

Instead, his body will be transported overland to his desert hometown, but due to the lack of tarmac roads, it will arrive late at night.

Earlier, politicians and musicians paid respects to the "Mali Blues" pioneer.

"Mali has lost another monument, a great man," said Culture Minister Cheikh Oumar Cissoko at Bamako airport.

Ali Farka Toure
We would have dinner with him, and listen to him share his experiences, always with a laugh and smile
Catherine Leila, Bamako

He also remarked at Toure's good spirits, even while he was on his death bed with bone cancer.

Toure, who was in his late 60s, won two Grammy awards for his work.

In 2004, he was elected mayor of Niafunke and helped build roads and develop farms in the desert region.

Although he worked with several US blues guitarists, the "Bluesman of Africa" always insisted that the music had its roots in the traditional sounds of northern Mali, rather than the southern United States.

Malian journalist Sadio Kante says Toure was better known abroad than in his home country.

Toure won one of his Grammys just weeks before his death for his album in collaboration with another famous Malian musician, Toumani Diabate, In the Heart of the Moon.

He won the other in 1994 with US guitarist Ry Cooder for the widely acclaimed Talking Timbuktu.

His record label, World Circuit, said he had just finished work on a new solo album.

He was born in Timbuktu in 1939 but the exact date of his birth is not known.

"For some people, Timbuktu is a place at the end of nowhere," he was once quoted as saying.

"But that's not true, I'm from Timbuktu, and I can tell you that it's right in the centre of the world."

He leaves a widow and 11 children.

Hear music performed by Ali Farka Toure

Obituary: Ali Farka Toure
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Country profile: Mali
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