Africa

TAMIKREST – The coalition, the knot, the future

Tamekrist - New Touareg guitar music

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s Tinariwen who created the path,” declares Ousmane Ag Mossa, frizzy-locked leader of Tamikrest, in a pre-emptive strike against a thousand inevitable questions. “But the way I see it, if younger bands don’t come through, then Touareg music will eventually die. They created the path and now it’s up to us to walk down it and create the future.”

KEL INEDAN – The Touareg blacksmiths

This is an extract from a pamphlet / article / short book (fate will delete as applicable) that I’m writing about the Touareg blacksmith or artisan. It’s a complex subject and I’m approaching in my usual journalistic and non-academic way. This is bound to ruffle some scholarly feathers…an enjoyable sport in itself. I’m writing this…

MATOUB LOUNES – A lifetime dancing with death

“Silence is death and yet if you speak you die.  If you keep quiet you die.  So then speak and die.” Tahar Djaout “I want to speak and I don’t want to die” Matoub Lounès A grave between an olive and a cherry tree Death finally caught up with him on the lonely bend of…

KHALED #2 – Freedom and pop

A national treasure, who has always taken the trouble to stay out of big ‘P’ politics, Khaled has no problem flirting with power. He’s a good friend of the current Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and defends his friend’s decision to play loose with the constitution and seek a third term.

KHALED – The fame and the furies

Khaled knows that kind of fame, not only in France, but also throughout North Africa, its diaspora and strange unlikely places like India, Brazil and Japan. After the release of his second to last album ‘Kenza’ in 2000, it seemed that fame was beginning to take its toll.

FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT – 2001, A Saharan Odyssey

I first heard about the Festival in the Desert from Philippe Brix, the lean and indefatigable manager of the French global troubadours, Lo’Jo. Two years ago, on his return from one of Lo’Jo’s regular trips to Bamako, the capital of Mali, Philippe told me that the group had minted a solid and friendly relationship with a band of Touareg musicians from northern Mali called Tinariwen, which means ‘deserts’ or ‘empty places’ in Tamashek, the ancient language of the Touareg people. Philippe had also met a quietly spoken and well-informed Touareg intellectual called Issa Dicko. Dicko was a member of Efes, an official association based in Mali whose goal is to further the political, social and cultural development of Mali’s remote northern desert regions. After many conversations and cups of bitter syrupy tea they decided to stage a festival of Touareg music and culture in the desert around the first full moon of the new millennium.

FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT #2 – Hope through music

That’s why the Festivals in the Desert are so important. They give a region previously ravaged by conflict and insecurity the chance to show a peaceful face to the world. They give the chance for the Touareg to prove that far from being bandits, they are a simply another African people in the pressure cooker of enforced modernisation, desperately trying to adapt their millennial nomadic culture to the merciless realities ofa modern globalised world.

STAFF BENDA BILILI – No pity please!

Long ago, Staff Benda Bilili understood that any real handicap exists only in the mind, rather than in the legs. Stricken by polio whilst still young, abandoned to their fate in one of the toughest and most dysfunctional cities in the world, forced to survive by courage and wit alone, Ricky, Coco, Roger and the crew have always known that life’s path clings to a vertical cliff face which towers above them. The only way has been up.