Root Down

Imagine the brousse like a rich tapestry laid out over the desert. This is not the empty desert of bleached sand, the "tilemsi" as it is called in Tamashek, not the vast stretch wasteland where no plant grows, not the sea of alternating sand dunes and lush green date palm…

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Three at a time please.

The guitar soiree is the quintessential to the modern Tamashek. At least a few times in a week a festival will be organized -- be it a marriage, a baptism, or simply a concert. As the first stars appear in the sky, the guitar can be heard wafting over the…

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That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it…

The Tuaregs consist of a variety of tribes, stretching across the center of the Saharan desert, East of Mauritania, across Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya. In the past, the Western association was with "blue men" in the desert, the fierce resistance to colonization, the romantic myth of the desert nomad. Today…

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Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Griots.

While Tuareg rock (Desert Blues, i.e. Tinariwen) is the most known form of Tamashek music abroad, traditional guitar still has a strong place in the North. The traditional guitar is found throughout West Africa, for Peuls, Sonrai, Maures, Tuareg, Sarakoles - respectively named Hodou, Koubour, Tidinit, Teherdent or Hardine (and…

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Lere

In Lere, Mohamed Issa, from the group Tartit, arrives on the tail of a dust storm. He is here for one night, and then departing to play in a marriage "en brousse". Accompanied by myself and Abou, a young apprentice, we play out by the tent until the early hours.Mohammad…

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A million and one stars

The desert north of the river Niger is a scrubby dry place. Along the border with Mauritanian and Mali, there are a mixture of Maurs, Berbiche, and Tamashek (Tuareg). I meet a group of Kalashnikov carrying youths (military). The zone is in a state of continuous tension, as rebel raids…

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