The Tuareg, known amongst themselves as the Kel Tamasheq, have long been recognised as warriors, traders and travellers of the Sahara Desert – known both for their grace and nobility as well as their fierce reputation.
Tuareg communities in the Sahara, who have often felt overlooked and unrepresented by their governments, have been seeking self-determination for generations. And years of rebellion have escalated in recent times.
But before the fighting began, rebels began teaching the community about the goals of the rebellion through song and the recently adopted guitar. Musicians of the region sang popular songs that proclaimed the rights and heritage of the Tuaregs.
Omara ‘Bombino’ Moctar, whose given name is Goumour Almoctar, was born on January 1, 1980, in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs.
One day, relatives arrived from the front lines of the rebellion, carrying with them two guitars that they left behind for a few months. Bombino began to teach himself to play the guitars, plucking out notes in imitation of the songs he had heard.
As he got older, he settled into life as working musician, performing at political rallies, weddings, and other ceremonies. His first internationally released album, Agadez, was released in April 2011.
Bombino’s life and travels have exposed him to the problems facing his people, and he says he has taken on the mission of helping the Tuareg community achieve equal rights, peace, maintain their rich cultural heritage and promote education.
“We fought for our rights,” says Bombino, “But we have seen that guns are not the solution. We need to change our system. Our children must go to school and learn about their Tuareg identity.”
Bombino’s music is featured in the Al Jazeera film Orphans of the Sahara. For more on the band, visit their official website: www.bombinomusic.com
||Orphans of the Sahara can be seen each week from January 9, 2014, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday: 0100.|