Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Bombino – Imuhar

It’s Wednesday morning and that means only one thing: it is time for a song from Mali. Today we are delighted to introduce our first musician of Tuareg heritage to feature on the Track of the Week: Omara “Bombino” Moctar. The Tuareg or Kel Tamasheq, as they refer to themselves, have their own deep musical, political, and religious history that is well worth exploring. Andy Morgan has recently published a book that goes a long way in explaining this history and perhaps can begin to help one understand how the Tuareg often struggle in modern Malian life, including with the issue of their independence and their involvement in the country’s current armed conflict.

Bombino himself has an incredible life story which can be read in great detail here. He was born on the first day of 1980 in an encampment of Nomadic Tuaregs in Niger and his life can in many ways relate to the issues outlined above. After the droughts of the mid-80s and during the conflict on the early 90s Bombino – through chance – found himself in possession of a guitar. The guitar had recently been adopted by the Tuareg as a way of projecting their teachings and values through song. At an age not much older than 10 he began to teach himself and after a while Bombino found himself incorporating his music into political rallies and other cultural crafts – including cinema. He even managed to land a role as an extra in a French film that explains the origin of the title of this song of the week.

We have found this delightful live rendition of his and his band’s song “Imuhar” in the link below. Like most music from Mali and the Sahel it takes on an ever-greater energy and purpose when performed live. Bombino is performing live in London on the 25th October. We’ll probably see you there.

Bombino – Imuhar

 

4 thoughts on “Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week”

    1. Yeah, good point. He was born in Niger and isn’t from Mali. But he’s lived in exile all over the Sahel and is proudly Tuareg. He is of a people who live trans-borders, across a region that includes parts of Mali. It is impossible to talk about Malian music without talking about Tuaregs, and as the Tuareg have no fixed state it cannot be correct to only think of Tuareg music from Mali.

      I suppose when trying to explore Mali’s musical traditions the story may sometimes start elsewhere; a product of the diverse identities and origins of Mali’s people.

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