1. "Before the national union nobody knew the Saharawi." This song praises the Saharawi national union that was signed on Oct 12, 1975. Lmarabet Mahfud is a talented young singer who lives in Al Aiun, in the Saharawi refugee camps (SW Algeria). He is the son of legendary singer Mahfud Aliyen 'Drebaba' and has been making music since he was a child. Now he performs at national events, weddings and other occasions. His main concern is the preservation of Saharawi traditional music as a way of fighting the Moroccan occupation and cultural appropriation of Western Sahara. He's accompanied this time by genius guitarist Luali Said and the group from the daira of Dchera (Al Aiun camp); Zunu Berki is the girl playing the plastic drum.

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  2. 'Climbing the mountain' was the first Saharawi revolutionary song to be sung in 1973, the year when the Polisario Front, the Saharawi liberation movement, was founded. This song talks about the idea of changing your destiny and encourages all the Saharawis to become fighters in order to liberate their land, Western Sahara, from the colonial power, Spain. Habuza was among the first female singers to join the revolution. The lyrics of the song were composed by Polisario leader and martyr El Uali Mustapha Sayed. This music belongs to a style known as nidal, or music of the struggle, which became a trait of the Saharawi society throughout the 16 years of war that followed the invasion of the territory by Morocco in 1975. This new colonisation forced half of the Saharawi population to go on exile in refugee camps set in SW Algeria, where they have been living ever since.

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  3. 3 for the price of 1! This short video features the beginning of three beautifully performed well-known Saharawi songs. The first one, a traditional one, belongs to the repertoire of the lashuar. These are short sung verses that were usually played at family or other collective occasions. Literally 'I go to you quickly', the song is a love tune from a man to a woman. The second and third songs are from the early nidal or national/revolutionary music. They are dedicated to the two most well-known Saharawi martyrs: Basiri, the first anti-colonial revolutionary Saharawi figure, and El Uali, the founder of the Polisario Front in 1973. Tarba Bueibu is a sweet singer and wonderful percussionist who performs often in the camps with local groups and the national opera. She has also toured internationally, although she has never wanted to become a professional musician, as she says, "to keep her freedom".

    # vimeo.com/83449182 Uploaded 551 Plays 0 Comments
  4. Last October 2013 I went down to Dakhla refugee camp (SW Algeria) with my really good friends Salek Ali and Ali Meziane to attend the celebrations of the FiSahara (desert film festival) 2013 and to find incredible musicians to meet, interview and record. ElHafed was one of them! A revolutionary musician who studied in Cuba, ElHafed has a repertoire of over 100 songs, all written and composed by himself. However, he does not work in music professionally (he works at the local hospital instead!) and only sings in national events from time to time. All his music is dedicated to the Saharawi cause. In this song called 'Your objective' he encourages the Saharawi to keep fighting until they reach their only objective, freedom. It was first performed in 2012 in a demonstration in Dakhla.

    The recording was made as part of the British Library's field recordings project 'Portraits of Saharawi music', which I have been leading since October 2013. In this occasion, Salek was holding the video camera while I hit record on the recorder; he had some fun with the zoom!

    More about the project here: http://violetaruanomusic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/snapshots-of-saharawi-music-recording.html

    # vimeo.com/92660246 Uploaded 420 Plays 0 Comments
  5. This video features one of the most traditional Saharawi music styles, the medeh. This spiritual music in honour of prophet Mohamed is sung in Hassaniya all across the land of the Beidan, especially Mauritania and Western Sahara. It is normally performed by groups of women, the medahat, who sit informally in a semicircle playing the traditional tbal drums, clapping and singing in a call and response style. From time to time, they also do the sgarits, or typical ululations to encourage the lead singer. Here Salwan, a professional medeh group from the Saharawi refugee camps, plays ‘Bismilah' (’Thank God’), led by Addala Doula and with famous medaha Faknash Abeid on the drum.

    This recording was made in Faknash's house in Smara, in the Saharawi refugee camps, as part of the British Library's field recordings project 'Portraits of Saharawi music', which I have been leading since October 2013.

    More about the project here: http://violetaruanomusic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/snapshots-of-saharawi-music-recording.html

    # vimeo.com/93966624 Uploaded 1,573 Plays 0 Comments

Portraits of Saharawi music

Violeta Ruano

These videos showcase the artists participating in the project Portraits of Saharawi music, developed within the framework of @violetaruano's PhD research on Saharawi music, youth and politics in collaboration with the British Library (London) and the…


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These videos showcase the artists participating in the project Portraits of Saharawi music, developed within the framework of @violetaruano's PhD research on Saharawi music, youth and politics in collaboration with the British Library (London) and the Saharawi Ministry of Culture (refugee camps, SW Algeria). The project seeks to preserve and showcase Saharawi music by creating a national archive of recordings. All these recordings will soon be available through the website of the British Library.

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