Ballaké Sissoko's Kora Dismantled In Transit - Who And Why Remain A Mystery One of West Africa's best-known musicians, Ballaké Sissoko, says that his kora was dismantled by TSA agents while he was traveling from New York to Paris. The agency denies it was involved.
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Prominent Malian Musician Alleges That TSA Destroyed His Instrument

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Prominent Malian Musician Alleges That TSA Destroyed His Instrument

Prominent Malian Musician Alleges That TSA Destroyed His Instrument

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/803353360/803907515" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Acclaimed West African musician Ballake Sissoko finished up a tour of the U.S. and returned to Paris earlier this week. When he opened his case, he found his instrument, the kora, in pieces. NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas reports Sissoko is accusing the Transportation Security Administration, and they say it wasn't them.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Ballake Sissoko had been in the U.S. with the trio 3MA.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TSIOULCAS: At JFK Airport in New York on Monday, Sissoko in his tour manager watched as the delicate, very large harp-like instrument went through a CT scanner in its hard flight case and onto a conveyor belt to the baggage room. The case was not opened.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TSIOULCAS: Everything looked fine when Sissoko picked up the case in Paris. But when he opened it at home, he says his kora had been completely taken apart, and it's irreparable. Sissoko says he also found a TSA notification in the case, saying that agents had inspected his property. But yesterday, a TSA spokesperson told NPR that its agents did not open Sissoko's case and pointed out that the TSA has distributed millions of those inspection notifications over the years and said that anyone could have put the note in there. Today Sissoko's manager, Corinne Serres, called the TSA statement, quote, "a full lie," unquote. She added, quote, "it's not the money - but the instrument and the time and care it takes to make it is precious."

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR News, New York.

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