US Customs destroys the instrument of renowned Mali musician Ballaké Sissoko

Originally published at:




It’s heartbreaking but nothing new from what i’ve read and heard from traveling musicians :frowning: When checking your instrument you always have to be prepared for them to destroy or lose it. The only way to get around it is to take it onboard with you if you can or send it separately via another safer method although i presume logistically the musician here could only check it and hope for the best.


God dammed smurfs!

Whithin The US, the best thing is to use a hard sided lockable case for anything of value you have to check in and then put a firearm in with the valuables. It can even be a plastic flare gun if you are anti gun. You then put a big fat lock on it. Then it is a felony for anyone, including the TSA to open it without you. Unfortunately he was traveling to France so no go for him.


You’d think that there should be a way to pre-screen things you want to check in that are valuable and delicate with the TSA (with yourself or a rep present) in order to avoid this but that would make too much sense.


Unfortunately, the US is a shit-hole country, and visiting here gets you this kind of treatment. :frowning:


That NPR video was beautiful. I was in wonder watching them in musical ecstasy. I am truly sorry for his loss.


Roger that.


I really need to start that business where people get to just smash shit in a warehouse with a baseball bat. I have a feeling I could make a fortune with it.

I think I’m losing the capacity to be angry because I’ve been so full of rage for the last 3 years It just feels like I’m numb


I have seen some expensive vintage instruments that got smashed and then repaired to playable condition, so it may not be a total loss, but an expensive repair job.

I think it’s former Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen who installed metal grommets in the neck joint of his vintage Telecaster, and uses machine screws instead of wood screws, so he can take the neck off and put the whole guitar in his carry on bag when gigging overseas.


I’ve read more than one story of nice instrument trashed in transit flying.


Already a thing.

Songs have been made…only not with those instruments


My guitar is only about $700, and it’s an easily replaceable Strat, but I would still be upset if it got broken in transit. I can only imagine how it would feel to lose an irreplaceable instrument.


Some high-end bikes these days have electronic shifting. I’ve read about racers flying to races and finding when they arrive that their shifting wires had been cut by the TSA. Curiously, I haven’t heard of this happening with old-fashioned Bowden cables. I just can’t explain it as anything but malice.


That is why I long ago outsourced rage to music. As an emotion to carry around personally it is heavy and radioactive. As an experience of music it is a) shared empathy, b) an outburst of movement, and c) cathartic. Highly recommended.


You can imagine the consternation and fear in Early Music circles for the theorbos, viols and plenty other one-off instruments.

1 Like

Yeah I passed that stage a long time ago. Even the most extreme forms of metal and harsh noise at full volume don’t do a damn thing anymore.

This is what I listen to when I get angry. This is what I play when I’m ready to put my fist through walls. The most intense rage I’ve ever found in music.

The entire Jane Doe album is my soundtrack for burning the world to the ground. I’m still looking for something angrier, and I’ve never found it.


I too listened to increasingly aggressive music in the past. Sometimes it was cathartic but often it just kept the anger going. Now when I am truly filled with rage this helps me let go of the anger.


Some airports, like Miami, have this. You take your bags to a prescreen area where they xray them with you there. Not sure how common it is and it is certainly not advertised.