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

Original Article

Posted By: NorthernDog, 2/7/2020 8:11:41 AM

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. (Snip) 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.” The statement alleged

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TSA's finest work at New York's airports.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Words have Meaning 2/7/2020 8:18:26 AM (No. 310602)
It sucks for him that his instrument was destroyed. Most musicians buy a second ticket for their instrument so it can travel right next to him.
7 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: Avikingman 2/7/2020 8:22:10 AM (No. 310604)
Hope he had insurance. A new instrument will be created, bet on it.
1 person likes this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: Nephilim 2/7/2020 8:23:41 AM (No. 310606)
Wait... People magazine is still around? ... sorry, it’s a story about a Facebook post using Pinterest pictures attributed to Getty... this section of the internet is the equivalent of the Doctor’s waiting room table.
2 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: Dukester 2/7/2020 8:31:04 AM (No. 310618)
As soon as the guy charged the TSA with racism, I wondered. Then I read the TSA's response, which struck me as reasonable. I don't believe the guy.
9 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: Lawsy0 2/7/2020 8:33:26 AM (No. 310624)
I had to look it up. A kora has 21 strings. Most stringed instruments are art works as well.
3 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: Cherrybark 2/7/2020 8:50:45 AM (No. 310657)
This story brought to mind, "United Breaks Guitars" from a few years back. Lost sympathy for the guy when it spun into “cultural ignorance and racism” that led to a piece of luggage to be destroyed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
2 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: JunkYardDog 2/7/2020 8:57:54 AM (No. 310669)
It's easier for me to believe that a bumbling oaf of a TSA agent took this apart to search for contraband than racism being the cause of it's destruction. And if it was so irreplaceable, WHY DIDN'T HE TAKE IT WITH HIM ON THE PLANE? Too cheap to buy a seat for it?
9 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: Skinnydip 2/7/2020 8:59:27 AM (No. 310672)
Hmmm, a racist X-ray machine. Didn't know they existed.
3 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: Highlander 2/7/2020 9:02:35 AM (No. 310674)
Lots of things get broken in transport. Get over it. He can find another kora-maker in Mali I bet. If it’s so valuable and irreplaceable, he should have taken steps to see it didn’t get broken by “racist” handlers. That racism thing cost whatever sympathy I had for him.
9 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: Blue-Z-Anna 2/7/2020 9:08:13 AM (No. 310683)
Joe Biden says he should just learn the harmonica.
8 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: seamusm 2/7/2020 9:17:48 AM (No. 310697)
I feel sorry for his loss but TSA's "What the H is this?" is not racist. He's learned a hard lesson. Checking his instrument rather than buying another ticket for it would be like checking your child to ride underneath in the hold with other luggage.
2 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: Mofongo 2/7/2020 9:18:11 AM (No. 310700)
Well, that should put the kibosh to Homeland Security.
0 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: lakerman1 2/7/2020 9:27:30 AM (No. 310724)
we were warned, back in flight ground school, that if a person flies into Canada, and then back to the U.S. Border patrol, if they are suspicious of the person, will dissemble your aircraft, and they don't put it back together again. the implicit advice was -don'tfly into canada. and that predated TsA.
2 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: hammondb3 2/7/2020 9:37:21 AM (No. 310734)
I was waiting in a TSA line at Atlanta Airport a couple of years ago and asked the person in front of me if they knew what TSA stood for. He said 'no' and I responded "Thousands, Standing Around". A second later I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around... and it was a TSA agent. He looked at me and said "No. It stands for The Start of Alcoholism". True story.
7 people like this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: red1066 2/7/2020 9:40:07 AM (No. 310738)
It does look like a mine that floats in the water.
2 people like this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: LadyHen 2/7/2020 9:52:32 AM (No. 310754)
Living in a music business city, the dude should have bought his instrument a seat so he could walk it through security. Leaving anything you love to the tender love and care of the ham handed TSA is crazy. Hence why I will never fly with a pet.
4 people like this.

Reply 17 - Posted by: DVC 2/7/2020 11:16:47 AM (No. 310877)
More likely the baggage handlers. I have literally seen a baggage handler carrying three suitcases drop one off the stack, then kick it across the ramp to the cart, then toss it on the pile. I have seen some destroyed bags that clearly took some sort of hydraulic machine to do the massive crushing damage to a stout suitcase with metal rims. A shame his instrument was destroyed, but the musicians who really care buy an extra seat and take care of it themselves. Or get a truly "bullet proof" case made. A aero engineer friend made a extremely strong custom aerospace carbon fiber case for Leo Kottke's guitar to protect it from the airline baggage goons.
4 people like this.

Reply 18 - Posted by: PageTurner 2/7/2020 12:15:51 PM (No. 310954)
If you've ever heard Malian music, it's really beautiful, a class by itself, it sounds almost medieval and it probably is. Color me disgusted what happened to this tremendous artist. TSA hires convicts and pigs.
2 people like this.

Reply 19 - Posted by: LC Chihuahua 2/7/2020 12:34:10 PM (No. 310989)
Reminds me of a folk musician who wrote a song when the airline he was using broke his guitar. This isn't new. Neither is it racist. There are no guarantees. Worried about something getting broken? Keep it with you at all times. If it gets broke, there is nobody to blame but yourself. I travel with an expensive laptop. It never leaves my side.
2 people like this.

Reply 20 - Posted by: tom7 2/7/2020 1:38:09 PM (No. 311086)
I would suggest that "world-renowned kora player" is an oxymoron.
1 person likes this.

Reply 21 - Posted by: Chuzzles 2/7/2020 2:32:13 PM (No. 311152)
I hope that this fellow can be properly compensated. What a horrible tragedy, especially since TSA has xray machines that could have looked inside this, or even drug/explosive sniffing dogs to give it a once over if it was metallic. So sorry this happened, and this makes TSA look like the ignorant morons we all know they are.
1 person likes this.

Reply 22 - Posted by: Petronius 2/7/2020 7:16:36 PM (No. 311430)
Most likely ignorance, not racism. Far too many fine musical instruments have been destroyed by careless baggage handlers.
0 people like this.

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