by Andy Morgan
Cry beloved Sahara! The Sahara desert is in turmoil. Those old unshakeable scourges of under-development, corruption, marginalisation, drought, desertification and unemployment have been reinforced and even over-shadowed by the intertwinining furies of islamic terrorism, rampant mineral exploitation, drug smuggling and people trafficking. As a result, to coin one of Hunter S. Thompson's phrases, the Sahara has undergone a 'hardening of the arteries'. The Touareg, or Kel Tamashek, as they prefer call to themselves, seem less in command of their own territory and destiny than at any time since the arrival of the French army in the late 19th century. Terrorism has closed the desert's doors to outsiders. Tourism, once one of the most important conduits for enterprise and employment in the region, has collapsed. Floods, droughts and conflict have killed people and livestock. Unemployment is the norm rather than the exception. The future looks bleak, sometimes even hopeless.
But hopelessness is a luxury, which the Touareg know they cannot afford. When it comes to your family, your friends, your community, your camp, your village and your beloved homeland, you cannot give up hope. So life persists in the desert, tenacious in its grip on the dusty soil and relentless in its desire for freedom, self-government, development, peace and stability. Why is Assouf... longing, homesickness...one of the words you'll hear most often in the lyrics of Tamirest and most other modern Tamashek 'guitar' bands? Why this indestructible longing for such a seemingly arid, harsh and frobidding landscape? Because this desert is home, and because when there's peace and stability, it's one of the easiest places in the world to feel free. The Touareg know that only too well.
Tamikrest are a yound band but their songs are old. I don't mean that they were written long ago. No, all these songs are freshly composed, each with its eloquent and powerful message or sentiment. I mean that the struggle of the Touareg itself is old and Tamikrest's songs are but the latest expression of that struggle. But struggle is not all they express. There's love there too: love of a woman, love of a village, love of a culture and love of nature. Love is the oldest theme of all, and it keeps hope alive. Tamikrest are here to confront, once more, the question that should never be without a clear and unifying answer: „What are we fighting for?“ The answer is in every note and word of these ten songs: for this earth, these endless horizons, this freedom, this love. For this people, my people... Toumastin.
By Ousmane Ag Mossa
To the Touareg youth:
We must all recognize that we belong to a community and a culture, and that this culture is our strength in the eyes of others.
The Touareg youth must pay attention to their homeland 'Azawad' and to the towns, villages and camps in which the real Touareg live. The development of this territory and these settlements is a personal and collective duty for all of us. No one will work for the preservation of our land if we do not do it ourselves. As proof, you only need to consider the fifty years during which these nation states have been harbouring us, and then take a look at the conditions in which we live and the state of abandon in which our people and our lands find themselves today. It's a situation that can only rend any heart that lover our people in two.
We all have a duty to our people. That duty is to preserve our culture and our identity, to ceaselessly demand our basic rights at both a regional and international level, and to emphasize our right to self-determination, without which it will be difficult for us to deal with all problems that we face.
To the world:
The international community must not turn a deaf ear to the possible disappearance of people like ours, the Touareg, which would be an immense loss to all humanity. The world today sees the suffering of the Touareg, but few are the voices that speak out, or the ears that listen to our people who burn inside with the suffering of entire generations for more than half a century, thanks to the Balkanisation of their lands by nation states that they do not recognize, states which persue a policy of discrimination against our people with the aim of wiping them out. The living conditions of people in the Sahara, who are poorer than ever, bears witness to this.
The world must listen to the Touareg heart and help them to realise their vision, which is none other than the following: The Touareg demand that the injustice of which they are all victims ceases forthwith, that what is ours by right be restored to us, that's to say, our lands and the power to determine our own destiny. The Touareg want to live in freedom in their homeland and end of this form of colonisation, which has prevailed since fifty years, in other words, for far too long.
OUSMANE AG MOSSA – vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar
AGHALY AG MOHAMEDINE – djembe, percussion, backing vocals
MOSSA AG BORREIBA – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
CHEICK AG TIGLIA – bass, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
BASSA WALLET ABDAMOU – backing vocals
WANNOU WALLET SIDATY – backing vocals
IBRAHIM AG AHMED SALAM – drums, calabash
MAHMOUD AG AHMOUDEN – vocals & guitar on #8 & #10
Fatma Wallet Cheick: voice on #3, #5, #6, #7, #9; backing vocals #10
Mossa Ag Ahmed: electric guitar #9
Blaž Celarec: percussion on #4, #9 & #11
Chris Cacavas: keyboard on #11
Rok Stirn: trombone on #4
Matjaž Sekne: viola on #11
Chris Eckman: organ on #6 & #7
A1 TIZARAT improvisation instrumentale
A2 FASSOUS TARAHNET – HER PRESTIGOUS LOVE
Her innocent love is the wish
My heart has been seeking forever to fulfill
The earth is turning and i cross it like an illusion
Hoping to preserve my love for a long time
So that it's not just a passing story.
Take care of our love, the treasure of my soul,
Since yours has become like a plant
That nourishes my heart.
A3 NAK AMADJAR NIDOUNIA – ME, THE STRANGER TO LIFE
„From this world, to whom I owe my existence,
My days will reach their end“
I'm just a passanger of life
Which, as it come, will also take its leave
My soul and heart know it, and I also believe
That I was not created to be eternal
My life is made of illusions,
In which my sadness overwhelms my joy
My heart never ceases to express
The evil i have known, which my people have lived.
A4 ARATAN N TINARIWEN – HEIR OF THE DESERT
We, sons of desert
Who live in drought
This empty space
Where thirst and wind hold sway
Bare of shade and water
But full of liberty
It's the country of antelopes
And nature's beatiful beasts
A5 AYITMA MADJAM – WHERE ARE YOU MY BROTHERS?
Where are you my brothers?
Let us demand our dreams, all of us, in good faith
So that we can reach our goal.
Brothers, why do you wait and why all this patience
With all the problems that never cease to accumulate.
We see our sisters who have endured misery
Never losing hope despite their oppression.
Our lands are divided,
Other countries been founded on them
With their well traced frontiers
My people are divided, marginalised,
And become like strangers in their own land
Knowing that they are dispossed and without any authority.
A6 AIDJAN ADAKY – ALL THINGS MUST PASS
All things must pass
And something else will take its place
Nothing in life is eternal
Its joy often follows its pain
And life will give its all to he who knows himself!
So whatever you have experienced, stay vigilant
Do not trust it. Expect further tribulations.
I've attempted so much
And thought of doing so much more
Just to make the dream of my soul come true,
But the again, well I know
That nothing is done
Unless it is the will of God.
B1 ADDEKTEGH - improvisation instrumentale
B2 TARHAMANINE ASSINEGH – TO YOU MY LOVE I SAY
To you my love, I say:
When i remember you i'm happy
To you my love, I say:
It reminds me of days gone by
To you my love, I say:
When my heart had no other worries
To you my love, I say:
My dream is you
To you my love, I say:
My essence is you
To you my love, I say:
My heart is yours
To you my love, I say:
You are the mistress of my thoughts
B3 NAK AKALINE TINZA – TINZA, MY HOMELAND
Tinza is my home
My fatherland, which I inhabit and so admire
I grew up there, and there I learned how to love
I left my memories of childhood there too
Those unforgettable memories, shared with my brothers
From my village which I knew so well, and loved.
B4 TIDIT – REALITY
The truth we know it well
And we know you know it too
When you rise up
Only to split up
It's the enemy you're encouraging.
You love freedom
You chant for it in your sleep
But the enemy thinks of you
Like the trough in which he quenches his thirst
There are old men who have waited, patiently since birth
For you to build a unified country
We have suffered too much; it's our dishonour
If you don't strive towards a clear objective.
B5 DIHAD TEDOUN ITRAN – WHEN THE STARS FALL
Whe the stars fall
I listen to the beautiful melody of the wind
It's the time when, all alone, I engage with my thoughts
I sit longingly, and see nothing
But the traces of memories.
My heart speaks to me about some dream
And much besides, much that gives me pain.
The world seems tight and narrow
When my soul sister is not here with me.
When Touareg children arrive in the public Malian schools, they are soon confronted by an administration that refuses to see the realities our people subjected. The youngsters are subject to racism and marginalisation every day at school.
A few of us who attended the private school of Tinzawaten, initiated by the Tuareg elite and financed by European and French funds, followed the road led to Tamikrest.
The rebellion of 23rd of May 2006, caused by the nonapplication of the peace treaty of 1992, shows the tragedy that my people undured since the French colonisation. Because of the rebellion, many families had to flee, and the children were forced to quit school.
Tamikrest, which means in Tamasheq "Union" and "Knot", was created following these events. Our hope is to have the world listen to our revolutionary songs, which reflect the harsh life conditions that our people endure. Tamikrest also sings the desert - so fundamental for the Tuareg - praises of love, beauty, and the goodness of nomadic culture.
Rebel Kidal is the name, sometimes given to the capital of the 8th region of Mali, also called "Azawad". In this dry and barren northern region, living conditions are difficult: No river, no asphalt roads, and the recently built hospital of Kidal is and empty shell. People must travel over 300km to have a tooth removed or an x-ray done. The popualtion are mostly "Kel Tamasheq" (Touaregs) also known as the "Kel Adagh" (those of the hills) in reference to the mountains "l'Adrar des lforas".
These nomadic breeders endured successively the great droughts of 1973 and 1984. The loss of livestock, government repression, and the difficulty to maintain their traditions, led to the first rebellion in 1963 soon after the independence of young Mali. Again a rebbelion in the 1990's, particulary violent, forced people to flee into exile. After the peace treaty signature, though Kidal was recognised as a regional capital, growing undervelopment, and the lack of opportunities for the youth led to another insurrection in May 2006. Once again the various parties managed to come to an agreement, but tensions continued to grow until 2008 when new conflicts erupted between the army and ex-rebels. Beyond their hopes for a decent existence, The Tuaregs wish above all to save and defend their culture.
Recorded at Studio Bogolan, Bamako, Mali, July 21 - 26, 2009
Produced by Chris Eckman
Translations by Melissa Wainhouse
Ousmane Ag Mossa - Vocals, Lead Guitar
Aghaly Ag Mohamadine - Percussion, Drums, Backing Vocals
Cheikhe Ag Tigly - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mossa Ag Borayba - Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mossa Ag Ahmed - 2nd Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Fatma Walette Cheikhe - Backing Vocals
Bassa Walette Abdamou - Backing Vocals
Ibrahim Ahmed (Pino) - Calabash On 7
Chris Eckman - Percussion On 2 & Organ on 5
Hugo Race - Slide Guitar On 11
All songs by Ousmane Ag Mossa
Oh Lord, You who sees all things,
You who have power and strength,
help the Touareg.
Since the beginning of existence
he lives in barren regions with no means.
He watches a world in movement evolving beyond him,
while he remains trapped in ignorance.
If Aicha was in a valley,
she would be the flower growing by the water.
If I could have two hearts,
I would live with one,
and offer the other to Aicha,
so that she stays forever happy.
My friend, what is this pitiful world
which ignores your joy and leaves you in a mystery?
Tell love, master of my soul:
To take care of you and of my heart
Remember my love, the pain that fills my heart,
I send you love.
Remember all the memories and the impressions
that you left my heart in pain.
My beloved, what have you done?
I can't believe you are the author.
My heart asks: What pain is this?
He feels abondoned in a dry desert.
My soul answers: such is life;
what seems to you unbelievable
can one day be possible.
Never could I imagine that my heart and soul
could suffer in this way.
A5 ARATANE N'ADAGH
Oh! How pitiful they are,
the children of L'Adagh.
Since their birth they suffer and
have known only drought.
Foreign cities send help such as Lyon and Les Ulis.
Let's fight against ignorance,
which oppresses the children of L'Adagh
because their greatest worry is the lack of knowledge.
B1 TIDITE TILLE
Truth exists, you hide it because
you don't like it, and you don't admit it.
So much suffering that you've dismissed.
You have ignored our people in their torment.
You have left our people in their pain.
But despite the abandonment we feel
and the drought we endure,
we love our land above all.
I greet my beloved, whose love rules my heart.
My heart is in longing abandoned in desperation.
She is more beatiful then the gaze of an antelope
standing by a pond surrounded by rocks.
I will say it and i'll say it again:
freedom will come even if we leave orphans behind.
Our land is not for sale.
Freedom will be our heritage.
Each of you hear what i say,
freedom will come when my people will have independence.
Adagh, why do aour people,
because of your enemy, become rivals?
Despite each revolution and so close to success,
we end up despising each other like enemies.
We fight for glory and sow discord
and our rancour will lead us to our extinction.
Adagh, what have become of your people
who used to believe in the same values?
B5 ADOUNIA MAHEDJAGH
Oh, World, what can I do for my sad heart,
drowned in despair?
The day passes like a year,
and my endless worries accompany me all night long.
This existence brings no joy and no unhappiness,
wait and see.
My people are in conflict and divided,
they are enemies to each other.
Your best friend
with whom you share so many memories,
with whom you share so many memories;
one day will become your worst enemy.