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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Desert Blues

Ishumar, by Toumast.

From the French chômeur, and the generation of displaced nomadic people who ended up in France.

Toumast’s singer and writer Moussa ag Keyna was born somewhere between Mali and Niger’. He fought in the Tuareg uprising of the 90s and almost returned to Niger after the signing of a peace treaty in 1995, but when twelve of his comrades returned they were executed. So he stayed away. The adjective for a person from Niger is ‘Nigerois’. This may look French but isn't.

Odd that carrying an electric guitar and AK-47 around the Sahara on a camel’s back should germinate the sublime Methenyesque noodling of a track like ‘Dounia’, and yet it did.

I think of Douglas Oliver’s A Salvo for Africa:

Dunes are on the move in Western Africa.
The dunes are moving in on
four miles a year, reaching outskirts
where refugees form squatter camps.

Burkina Faso’s camels
heaved over on the roadside like lorries in ditches.

Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Northern Ghana,
Lake Chad six per cent it used to be,
people tempted into apathy,
their goats are wandering the desert.
Africans enriched by independence
now, like colonialists, in ugly parodies
of tribal land-grabbing, oust farmers
who walk blinded into clouds of dust.
The same farmers, urged by necessities,
drives nomads ever futher inland
across the desert margin, the
Red Saharan dust over
Europe gathering,

turning into soot.

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