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Here's Some Future Synth Music From Niger

Nigerién keyboardist Hama transforms Saharan folk songs into psychedelic electronic gems in his new album, Houmeissa.

Hama is a composer and keyboardist based in Niamey, Niger making something we haven't really much of: electronic desert folk songs.

Hama, also known as Hama Techno (real name Mouhamadou Moussa), spends his days working as a private driver in Niamey and came to doing music almost as an accident when a neighbor gifted him a synthesizer.

It was that gift that led him to start reinterpreting popular desert folk songs through an electronic lens.


Hama's songs play like an entrancing blend of Tuareg guitars and melodies with early 90s techno, synth wave, sci-fi soundtracks and much more.

According to Sahel Sounds, he "quickly became an underground star on the underground mp3 networks [of Niger], unattributed compositions traded by Bluetooth on Saharan cellphones."

"Terroir," a new single and music video that we're premiering here today, is an interpretation of a traditional Tuareg folk song.

Hama mentions, "When I was young, I used to visit my aunt who lived in the village Torodi. All of the children in the village listened to this on cassette. It was played on a tehardine [traditional guitar]—I adapted it to the piano, and now I've remixed it."

Watch the "Terroir" visual created by Jason Traeger below. Houmeissa is out January 18 via Sahel Sounds.

Hama - Terroir youtu.be

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Bombino, the First Nigerien Artist to Be Nominated For a Grammy

The electrifying musician talks to OkayAfrica about wielding the Tuareg weapon of peace: a guitar.

Omara "Bombino" Moctar, 38, is the Nigerien guitarist who has recently been nominated for a grammy.

His electrifying, acoustic sound and Tamasheq lyrics that touch on his Tuareg heritage and connection with the desert have become a hit. His music is boundless. It is comprised of traditional Berber sounds, the blues, rock & roll and reggae. What is just as unique as the above is his story.

His people, the Tuareg, descendants of the Berbers of North Africa have long been nomads, traders and warriors within the Sahara Desert.

In his early years, Bombino grew up in an encampment in Agadez with his seventeen brothers and sisters and rebelliously refused to go to school. He would attend a French-Arabic school until the age of nine then leave and be taken in by his grandmother, who would instill in him Tuareg moral code.

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Bombino. Photo: Richard Dumas / Partisan Records.

Bombino "Gets Closer to Africa" In His New Tuareg Blues Album 'Deran'

Tuareg legend Omara "Bombino" Moctar returned to Northern Africa to record his fifth proper album.

The exciting new full-length from Bombino serves as a career retrospective of sorts, touching on the different styles and various iterations of this renowned musician born in Niger. On Deran, the desert blues, traditional folk, and "Tuareggae" music styles Bombino has experimented with over the last decade come together in an amalgam of perfect unity.

Since his collaboration with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and subsequent signing to Nonesuch, Bombino has been lauded as one of the world's greatest living blues guitarists. Producers like Auerbach and, most recently, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth have collaborated with Bombino in an attempt to capture the raging spectacle of his live show. Most often they came up short. But despite what those American recording studios couldn't reproduce, they excelled in inspiring Bombino to realize the limitless possibilities of his music.

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Cellou Binani/Getty Images

Several People Have Been Killed During Protests in Guinea

Guineans are protesting against changes to the constitution which will allow President Alpha Conde to run for a third term.

At least five people have died during protests in Guinea's Conakry and Mamou after police opened fire on them, according to Aljazeera. The protests come just after President Alpha Conde instructed his government to look into drafting a new constitution that will allow him to remain in power past the permissible two terms. Conde's second five-year term will come to an end next year but as is the unfortunate case with many African leaders, the 81-year-old is intent on running for office yet again.

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Photo by Hamish Brown

In Conversation: Lemn Sissay On His New Book About Re-claiming the Ethiopian Heritage Stolen From Him by England’s Foster Care System

In 'My Name Is Why,' the 2019 PEN Pinter award winner passionately advocates for children in the institutional care system, and in turn tells a unique story of identity and the power in discovering one's heritage.

It took the author Lemn Sissay almost two decades to learn his real name. As an Ethiopian child growing up in England's care system, his cultural identity was systematically stripped from him at an early age. "For the first 18 years of my life I thought that my name was Norman," Sissay tells OkayAfrica. "I didn't meet a person of color until I was 10 years of age. I didn't know a person of color until I was 16. I didn't know I was Ethiopian until I was 16 years of age. They stole the memory of me from me. That is a land grab, you know? That is post-colonial, hallucinatory madness."

Sissay was not alone in this experience. As he notes in his powerful new memoir My Name Is Why, during the 1960s, tens of thousands of children in the UK were taken from their parents under dubious circumstances and put up for adoption. Sometimes, these placements were a matter of need, but other times, as was the case with Sissay, it was a result of the system preying on vulnerable parents. His case records, which he obtained in 2015 after a hardfought 30 year campaign, show that his mother was a victim of child "harvesting," in which young, single women were often forced into giving their children up for adoption before being sent back to their native countries. She tried to regain custody of young Sissay, but was unsuccessful.

Whether they end up in the foster system out of need or by mistake, Sissay says that most institutionalized children face the same fate of abuse under an inadequate and mismanaged system that fails to recognize their full humanity. For black children who are sent to white homes, it often means detachment from a culturally-sensitive environment. "There are too many brilliant people that I know who have been adopted by white parents for me to say that it just doesn't work," says Sissay. "But the problem is the amount of children that it doesn't work for."

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