Niger: Playing his music he was risking his life

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Niger:
Playing his music he was risking his life

It has only been since the peace treaties of late 2009 that it has been safe for musicians from Niger to return from exile and perform their music inside the country borders. In a review of a new album by Group Doueh from Niger, Richard Marcus tells that members of another band were assassinated by the Niger government, and the leader of Group Doueh lived with the knowledge that just by playing his music he was risking his life.

Over the past decade or so the music of the Tuareg, or Kel Tamashek, people of the sub-Saharan desert region of North Africa, has been heard more and more in Europe and North America. Bands like Tinariwen and individuals like Bombino (real name: Omara Moctar) have garnered international recognition with their performances and recordings and have done much to popularise the music.

“Born out of rebellion, most of the first generation of musicians had taken part in uprisings by the Kel Tamashek against the governments of Mali and Niger, as a means of inspiring their people to keep fighting for their rights and reminding them of their cultural traditions. The music has gone from being banned by regional governments to being in demand at international music festivals,” wrote Richard Marcus of BlogCritics.org in an introduction to his review of the music by Group Doueh (pronounced ‘Doo-way’).

Still, while the music was banned, cassettes of their music were passed from hand to hand, listened to by the people, and also made their way into the hands of interested outsiders

“While not as well known internationally, Group Doueh, a family band headed by father Salmou Bamaar on guitar, has been around since the early days of both the Kel Tamashek rebellions and the guitar-driven music it spawned.

Like others Salmou Bamaar lived with the knowledge that just by playing his music he was risking his life. Members of Bombino’s original band were assassinated by the Niger government, and at one time possession of any “guitar player” music was against the law.”



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Richard Marcus, BlogCritics.org – 24 May 2011:

‘Music Review: Group Doueh – Zayna Jumma’

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