Tagged with: Toumast Touareg Tuareg Ishumar Amachal chomeur Moussa Ag Keyna Aminatou Goumar Libya. Algeria Mali Niger Sahara Dan Levy blues desert World Music


Toumast translates as 'identity' . . .

During the past decades, Touareg society underwent transformations that deeply modified their pastoral and trading economy as well as their political life.

At the beginning of the 1960’s, while the Touaregs expressed in vain their refusal to be attached to the states of Niger or Mali, the decolonization deprived them of true independence and their territory was parted between different states. The authoritative and repressive policy of the governments of Niger and Mali radicalized furthermore their positions.

In the 1970’s and 80’s the region was struck by several periods of drought, forcing the touareg population to exile to southern Algeria and southern Libya. It then became customary to call the young Touaregs looking for work, ishumar, a term borrowed from the French « chômeur », meaning unemployed.  

Going from city to city the Ishumar lived an itinerant life along with the tormented story of the Touareg Liberation Front that was growing clandestinely. Their particular culture is forged outside of the camps and the cities, far from their families.

The Touareg Liberation Front launched an offensive in 1990 against the northern regions of Mali and Niger. The conflict officially ended in 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger when the regimes became more democratic.

The first ishumar band, founded in Libya and Algeria around Intiyeden and Ibrahim Abaraybone, is called Tinariwen. They draw their inspiration from traditional melody lines. Their militant lyrics describe their adventurous way of living and formulate vibrant calls to mobilize the younger generation that remains in the country. These itinerant musicians perform during night festivities in shantytowns. Their songs are then recorded on tapes, duplicated, exchanged or offered, spreading the word of the Ishumar in all of the touareg region, in camps as in cities.

Toumast was founded in the 90’s by Moussa Ag Keyna. In 1993, after years of combat and resistance, Moussa was severely wounded and evacuated to France, later joined by Aminatou Goumar

The first album was a testimony about the years of combat and disillusion experienced by the Touaregs. The songs containing topics precious to the Ishumar: the nostalgia of the nomadic life, love, the bitter taste of exile and the criticism of politics. (Nadia Belalimat)

Toumast besides releasing their two albums (Ishumar and Amachal) have also been involved in a film about the Touareg struggle entitled: 

DIRECTED BY Dominique Margot
35mm, 88min
TOUMAST – GUITARS AND KALASHNIKOVS retraces a part of recent history of the Tuaregs. Theirs is a fragmented history made of suffering, wandering, revolt and injustice - but also of travel, comfort and hope. A character guides us on these chance and complex trajectories: Moussa ag Keyna.
Premiere Switzerland: Visions du réel Nyon april 2010
Premiere France: Festival Itinérances Ales march 2010
Nominated for the "Cinema for peace Award for Most Valuable Documentary Berlin 2010"

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