Tamikrest in London (2017): La ville du désert sahélienne avec une histoire à raconter

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Le groupe touareg sort un cinquième album en hommage à une ville toujours sous tension.


It was an absolute privilege to see Tamikrest perform in early May 2017 at the Nells Jazz and Blues in West London. The London Jukebox along with Nells Jazz and Blues organised a sensational night of live Sahelian/Saharan blues and funk that had the audience smiling, mesmerised, thrilled and touched by the talent and personal journey of Tamikrest. Their latest album celebrates who the Tuareg are, the Kel Tamasheq (“those who speak Tamasheq”), the keepers of an ancient and endangered cultural voice.


Unknown to many within the UK and Europe; the Tuareg group’s latest album named ‘Kidal’ is conceived first and foremost as a vehicle to serve the cause of this Saharan people, defended tirelessly between incandescent blues and electric rock of desert. Tamikrest takes on the torch of his older brother Tinariwen, a new generation of Tuareg rock called ishumar, “the music of the unemployed.” Far from the Malian Sahara whose members are native, they disembark in the West for their first tours outside the African continent.


(Checkout and order Tamikrest’s New Album: Kidal – click here for more info)

Tamikrest are from Kidal, a remote desert town in the northwest of the Sahara, some 2,000 kilometres north of the capital Bamako. The band members are all Tuaregs, a group of people that is spread all over North and some of West Africa, i.e. Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. In ancient times the Tuareg were the proud rulers of the Sahara, but their territory was divided in different countries and they had to fight long and hard for independence. Between 1990 and 1995 this fight evolved into a bloody civil war.


The vibes, melodies yet powerful soulful rythm of the groups acoustic funk was underpinned by a deep story that they world needed to hear. And we heard it on the night. The sun shines in Tinzaouaten, a small town in the heart of the Adagh des Ifoghas, a mountain of sandstone in northern Mali. What would seem to many as a mere remote area, in the middle of the immensity of the Saharan desert, is in fact the home of many Tuaregs, and in particular Ousmane Ag Mossa, leader of Tamikrest. He who was younger dreamed of being a lawyer, now devoted his life to art, having realized that music could be an even stronger weapon for those within the region and beyond the continent to hear their story.


This acknowledgment to the West is not an end in itself for the group, their leader Ousmane Ag Mossa recalling that the real stake far surpasses any notion of artistic success: “Even if music brings me a better life and A little comfort, it is worth nothing as mine are marginalized and persecuted. (…) Over the years, nothing really improves in Kidal. We must come here to see how we live, it is not Bamako, it is another world. No one is investing in the development of this city, 90% of young people are unemployed. So spoke Ousmane in an interview in 2011.

About the recent war in northern Mali, Ousmane never talks about victory or defeat. He just evokes a terrible tear in his community. Absence, betrayal, pain, revolt, hope … As many tensions as the young Touareg pacifists of Tamikrest transform into music and dress poetry.


There are many injustices that the Tuaregs suffer and Tamikrest; likewise their music and words, leaves a sad and nostalgic feeling. The painful living conditions of the Tuaregs of the Adagh of the Ifoghas undoubtedly establish the basis of this spirit, perfectly illustrated on the melancholy ballad Kidal Album.


Videos to follow. Special Thanks to FJ Visuals and The London Jukebox for your help guys – Much Appreciated!


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