Diverse cultures deserve respect

Lindsey Hilsum's article about going to Timbuktu for the millennium ("Great myth, shame about the reality", 10 January) seems to epitomise the western attitude that the rest of the world is there for our convenience and gratification. The most offensive part was her description of the music provided for the entertainment of the western tourists as "oriental cadences coaxed from a Fender Stratocaster, accompanied by Timbuktu's version of the Supremes, three fat ladies in saris". It seems likely that what was being provided, in fairly difficult conditions, was the music of the Griots, the traditional and sophisticated masters of west African music. If Hilsum can't treat other cultures with a little bit of respect, she should stay at home, or stick to the westernised resorts infesting more and more of the world's surface.

Anne Jackson
Crediton, Devon

This article first appeared in the 17 January 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The plot to keep us puffing