It’s a truism of rock music that there are no guitar gods anymore. They’re wrong, but apparently you have to go to Niger to find them. There you will find Mdou Moctar, one of the liveliest guitarists in the world. He’s also an actor, and you can catch his music in a new movie called “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai,” the first-ever Tuareg language fictional film. The movie follows Moctar’s character through the Niger club scene, battling jealous musicians, facing family conflicts and trials of love and overcoming his biggest obstacle – himself. If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a remake of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The movie opens the third annual African Film Festival at Duke. 7 p.m. Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, 153 Rubenstein Library.
In 1864, following the Emancipation Proclamation, Southern slave Annie Davis wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln expressing her “desire to be free” and asking if she was indeed free. Could she go where she pleased? Did her mistress still control her life? To Duke historian Thavolia Glymph, the letter expressed a fundamental question: When did slavery end? Glymph, author of the prize-winning “Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household” and who is the law school’s John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, will deliver the school’s annual Robert R. Wilson Lecture. She will discuss the process of transition for slaves and explore issues of the changing status of black people in the South during the Civil War and after the passage of the 13th Amendment. 12:30 p.m. 3041 School of Law.
Colson Whitehead was already a well-known literary figure before his 2016 novel “The Underground Railroad” followed two escaped slaves through a Gulliver-like travel through different worlds on the famed “railroad,” which in his recreation was an real secret subway. The novel won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize and cemented his reputation for imaginative explorations of issues of race, freedom and dignity. He’ll talk about his works, which also include "The Noble Hustle," "Zone One," "Sag Harbor" and "The Intuitionist," among others, in delivering the Weaver Memorial Lecture presented by Duke University Libraries. 6 p.m. Page Auditorium.
Elliott Abrams has helped shaped American foreign policy under numerous presidents, attracting praise and criticism for taking bold and often controversial stands from the Iran-Contra Affair to the second Gulf War. He’s consistently staked a position of aggressive action to aid American interests, but he’s also attempted to underline those interests with promotion of democracy and human rights. Abrams will discuss his career in a public conversation with Professor Bruce Jentleson in a talk on "Realistic & Principled: An Argument for American Support of Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East." 6 p.m. 04 Sanford School of Public Policy.
For more than four decades, one night a year the Duke Wind Symphony recreates a little part of 19th century Vienna with its Viennese Ball. There’s food, music and of course and opportunity to waltz and polka. If you don’t know how to dance, don’t worry: lessons are presented at the beginning of the evening. It’s a fundraiser for the Symphony, directed by Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant. Dress is semi-formal or formal. Tickets are $12, $20 for two. 7 p.m. Freeman Center for Jewish Life, 1415 Faber St.