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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Part of an essay I wrote on the Tuareg people and the band Tinariwen

While in exile, Ichumar was the only music the Tuareg had and it became hugely popular (Rasmussen, 2006). The original themes of the music were of cultural unity and armed resistance to oppression, which resonated with all Tuareg people (Rasmussen, 2006). Rasmussen (2006) also pointed out that cultural memories of ancient warriors and folklore were invoked in the lyrics of Ichumar songs. Today, the music has evolved with the times and expresses similar themes with more of a focus of uniting their people. In fact, a subculture has formed among the Tuareg youth who emulate the musicians, even though they were too young to have lived through the violence of the uprisings (Rasmussen, 2006). These younger Tuaregs start their own bands which have the same themes, including the same imagery and use of Tuareg folklore. This is causing many younger Tuaregs to take a renewed interest in their language and culture.

     According to Rasmussen (2006), “The ichumar genre endures in the modern guitar performances, and that it still represents a single voice of identity, one in which all youths recognize themselves, whether they were involved militarily or not” (p. 638). 
According to Rasmussen (2008) the band Tinariwen chose their name and use extensive essuf imagery in their music due to the personal tragedy experienced by founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, who as a child witnessed his family murdered by Malian troops and was an active fighter in the rebellion. Alhabib has stated that whenever he composes his songs he enters the essuf, which he calls the illness of the heart and soul (Rasmussen, 2008). This is why Tinariwen and other Tuareg bands such as Tartit, Tamakrest and Bomino are often referred to “Tuareg Blues”.

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