Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Tuareg Music, Desert Political Guitar Rock

Omara “Bombino” Moctar and Tinariwen Tuareg desert musical political rock replace guns for guitars.  

The Tuareg are nomadic tribesmen in the Sahara and Sahel regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Tuareg is descended from nomadic people who have walked the desert dunes for a millennium. 

Along with fighting the dry harsh climate of the desert, the Tuareg have also been battling for their independence in Niger and Mali. Two Tuareg musicians Omara “Bombino” Moctar and Tinariwen are major influences on the desert political guitar rock culture.

Sahara and Sahel regions of Sub-Saharan Africa Tuareg nomadic tribesmen photo by ginagleeson

Nigerien musician Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a globally celebrated Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from the Ifoghas tribe Agadez, Niger. His songs are sung in the Tuareg language of Tamashek musically expressing issues concerning the Tuareg people.  

"With music, we can have dialogue," says Bombino, who lists Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure and Jimi Hendrix as major influences on him. "We can talk openly and explain ourselves without using violence, which isn't necessary."

The band Tinariwen made up of musicians from the Tuareg tribespeople of Northern Mali has been making music together since 1980 and in 2012 their album Tassili won a Grammy. Tassili was recorded in the Algerian desert in a tent paying homage to old times. Tuareg tribespeople of Northern Mali is of one of the oldest people on earth.

"There's the heat, there's the wind, but after all of that, you find yourself at night in the most beautiful place," says Bombino.

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