Niger's 'Tuareggae' Star - Bombino - talks to the BBC about his home

-This album is about telling the story of Bombino and how I evolved through my music tours around the world. It’s about what I have learned over the years, playing with other people, performing here and there. As it is really the result of all this kind of apprenticeship and has been shaped by friends and people I have met along the way.


The music is interesting and the direction you’re taking, a mix of ‘Tuareg’ and Reggae music. I think you call it ‘Tuareggae.' Do you want to tell a bit more about that?

-I had this desire for a long time. When I look at my people who live in the desert, they have nothing to do with Reggae culture. But still, they listen to the Reggae music simply because they like it. They relate to it. And it’s a music that will never age. So I thought I might try and integrate Reggae and mix it with traditional styles from the desert such as Tende or Takamba.


I’ve seen that you said that your music captures the spirit of resistance and rebellion. Is that still the case today?

-Yes, but in a specific way.  For me, safeguarding peace is a form of rebellion in itself. Take a look at the geography of this region. I am from Niger and I was born there. But I have brothers in Libya, cousins in Mali and as far as Tamanrasset in Algeria. So we are spread between these four countries. But Tuaregs in Niger support a democratic change, which is something new. We even have a Tuareg prime minister. So for me, that’s an example of what the struggle can achieve.  Even if we don’t have a country named after the Tuareg people, we do care about our regions, about our origins.  


What do you think the future holds for the Tuareg community split as it is between several countries?

-I am from Agadez in the north and at a personal level, I try to see how I can contribute to the community as an artist by helping relatives get a job or things like that and these are the sort of things we need. We don’t need people to tell us to go on war or take up a new struggle. We are in 2016 and if Tuaregs must fight, they should do it in a spirit of freedom and without violence.


Several times there have been so called ‘Tuareg rebellions’ or uprising and several times when you’ve been displaced. Is that always in the back of your mind that it could happen again one day?

-I hope not, at least in Niger. My country has been peaceful now for ten years. And when I look at what is going on in Mali or in Libya, I thank God. History tells us that the Tuaregs have been there for very long time. But countries have been created with huge swaths of deserts that can’t be controlled. Look at Mali for example, with that massive space in the north and population concentrated in the south. Niger is like that too. But fortunately in Niger, we have had this dialogue between Niamey in the south and the Tuaregs, who know the desert well and this has helped keep peace. And with peace, everything is possible and this is what Niger is all about.