Aziza Brahim is a Sahrawi singer who was born in a refugee camp in Algeria.
In this interview she speaks about how and why her music is banned in Western Sahara.
Aziza Brahim refers to the Western Sahara territory as ‘the occupied zone’, and in this video interview she says: “There they never could listen to any of my music. The only way to listen to my music is do it ‘under cover’!”
Aziza Brahim’s family come from El Aaiun, the capital of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara. Her then pregnant mother fled when the Moroccans occupied the territory in 1975, and Aziza was exiled before she was born. Aziza never met her father who stayed behind in the occupied Western Sahara.
Studies in Cuba
Aziza Brahim won the first prize in a song competition at a cultural festival of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic – the self-proclaimed Saharawi state, exiled in the refugee camps in Algeria, and recognised by over 80 countries.
In 2005, together with the latin-jazz band Yayabo, Aziza Brahim made her first experiments with mixing the traditional music from Western Sahara with other music styles. Presently she is working with her new group, Gulili Mankoo which plays a mix of Western Sahara music, rhythms from Senegal, blues and rock music.
Aziza now lives in Spain and has a growing reputation internationally.
The video clip is produced by Freemuse. It was recorded on 19 September 2008 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Ole Reitov.
|Interview with Aziza Brahim
Transcription of the video recording of 19 September 2008
(Singing a verse from ’Tierra de Paz’:)
In the darkness of the night
It is my dream that this song could be heard in the occupied areas, because the song was written after the third Intifada – the last one – in 2007.
What would happen to a person who listens to a piece of my music? All I do with my songs is to bring forward a message of freedom as an expression of freedom on all levels. A person who listens to my music could easily risk being arrested. Or disappear… Or he could be tortured.
Art can’t be expressed in the occupied territories. It is illegal to show the West Saharan flag. Simply to use Sahrawi style in a piece of art would be very difficult. The painters… if they make a painting with the colours of the Sahrawi flag then that would be considered a provocation towards the Morrocan regime. For the Morrocan that is a provocation. For us it is a just a way to express ourselves.
Aziza Brahim sings La Sensación Del Tanque in Merida, Spain — on YouTube:
Scanarama, thanks to seed funding from The Simon Cumbers Media Fund, have started producing a documentary film about Aziza. Shooting will be completed early 2010.