Abdallah Oumbadougou

Abdallah Oumbadougou

 Agadez, Agadez, NER

Abdallah Oumbadougou is the founding father of modern Tuareg Music.In the deserts of Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya, everybody listen to his enchanting blues. Spokeman of the rebels in the 90s, Abdallah reminds that conscious music comes from the heart.


Abdallah Oumbadougou • Zozodinga

A man from the desert, musician and warrior Abdallah Oumbadougou, is a pioneer of Tuareg blues-rock. He was there at the beginning of the musical movement later embraced by bands like Tinariwen.
Thirty years ago, exiled in Algeria, strumming their guitars while sitting around small fires dug in the ground to make tea; the young Tuaregs were called ‘the unemployed’ by the Algerian population, “li choumar” (‘les chomeurs’ in French with the local accent). “Ishumar" became a label for their music. A music which was used to pass messages to the rebels fighters in Mali, Lybia and Niger, playing a significant role in the unification of the resistance against the dictatorship ruling Niger from 1990 to 1995.
When the rebellion ended, military and political pressure eased a little. Abdallah was reunited with his family in Agadez. No weapon in his hand but his guitar. Thanks to hand-duplicated tapes which had been circulating in the desert settlements, his voice and message of unity were already famous.
Fighting against divison and gang culture, he joined no political party. Art, culture and poetry were his only mission. He invested all the income he could make from his music in educational projects for the new generation. Indeed the Young Tuaregs living at the outskirts of the city had to face enforced idleness. The lack of jobs and schools, the dry pastures and the skinny animals… often nothing else to do but listen to the desert wind.
Abdallah created music schools for them, in Arlit in 2000, and in 2003 in Agadez where half of his family lives.
This is where the adventure of Desert Rebel started. The cultural project became the catalyst that brought together some of Abdallah’s key band members (from Tagueyt Takrist Nakal, “Building our Country” founded in 1987 in Lybia) joined by Daniel Jamet, guitarist of the French band Mano Negra (Manu Chao’s the first band). Amazigh Kateb, lead singer of French-Algerian band Gnawa Diffusion and Guizmo, lead singer of French band Tryo also joined the project.
Released in 2005, the album “Desert Rebel” drew the attention of the public to the issues faced by the Tuareg thanks to powerful recordings, international concerts, and a film by Francois Bergeron in which the actors of the rebellion in Niger told their story.
In 2007, with a new uprising in the North of Niger, things changed. Under threat of imprisonment or worse should he return, Abdallah was forced to stay in Europe while his musicians remained in Niger.
In February 2010 in the face of popular opposition, president Mamadou Tandja moved to change the constitution in order to remain as head of state. He was overthrown in a coup which brought much needed hope. With a Tuareg taking the position of Prime Minister, people of the desert got some representation.
Always an advocate for unity, Abdallah’s songs are asking for peace now. Without it, the Tuaregs have no hope against the advance of the desert, one drought followed by another, decimating their livestock, the predatory cupidity of the mine owners and geo-political machinations of the West.
It’s not impossible to prevent the Tuaregs from suffering. But it requires some action. In the area of Arlit, the company Areva is extracting uranium from open-cast mines, for sale to France. “The Tuareg live with a suspended sentence above them”, says Abdallah. “Despite the wealth made from the mines, we still have no electricity or running water”.
Many people are exposed to radioactivity and suffer from diseases that were previously unknown. The roads which are used to transport the waste that we call the ‘yellow cake’, are in very bad condition. It often occurs that trucks dump their loads into pasture zones. When the rain comes, the radioactive waste reaches the families’ plots and living areas with devastating consequences.
“I don’t have the power to stop the uranium mining but I am asking for protection of the people living locally, as they did in developed countries like Canada”.
These issues, and others relating to the environment and survival of the Tuaregs are the subjects at the heart of Zozodinga the new album by Abdallah Oumbadougou.

The album is produced by Daniel Jamet, his long-time friend and musical collaborator. Adding amazing guitar solos to some of the most groovy parts, Jamet applies his touch throughout the whole album. The resulting product of seven years of fruitful partnership, indeed sounds authentically rock-n-roll but stays deeply rooted in the desert.
“Tinéré”, for example, speaks about the gazelle herd running at the top of a dune. “To us, it’s one of the most beautiful things to see, says Abadallah. It’s pure beauty that we need to protect. Nature, gazelles, the symbols of life”. “Tapsik Dalit” also refers to the beautiful and refined poetry of the Berbers with lines like: “In the middle of the desert, the tender leaves of a bud come out of a puddle. I am submerged by burning desire for


Djeiche Chaabi

Written By: Abdallah Oumbadougou

«Djeïche Chaabi veut dire «Armée du peuple», c’est une chanson sur la révolution. La révolution se fait d’abord chez soi, si on fait la révolution ça nous concerne tous. C’est un message pour éveiller les consciences des gens sur les injustices qu’ils subissent.
Je l’ai écrite en 1988 c’est un appel au soulèvement.»


Written By: Abdallah Oumbadougou

«Tapsik est un arbre épineux du désert il fait des fleurs jaunes qui dégagent des parfums magnifiques. L’arbre que je chante est spécial, il s’est sauvé pour se protéger des animaux et a poussé au milieu de l’eau. Aucun ne peuvent l’atteindre, seul l’homme vient se reposer et profiter de son ombre.
Mon message concerne la liberté que j’aime comme un cœur assoiffé aime l’eau.
J’ai écrit cette chanson en 1988 au moment où les Touaregs étaient toujours poussés à l’exil.»


Written By: Abdallah Oumbadougou

«C’est une ode à la beauté du désert Ténéré,
cette chanson de 1991 parle des gazelles mais aussi de ma première voiture que j’avais nommée Tadalt. Elle servait à ravitailler les rebelles dans les montagnes, mais un jour elle tomba en panne. C’est difficile à croire mais elle fut guérie par deux hommes pieux d’une façon magique. Elle redémarra pour ne plus jamais s’arrêter jusqu’au jour ou elle fut brulée par un tank de l’armée avec mes deux guitares. Aujourd’hui on peut encore trouver sa carcasse calcinée à Agadez.»

Elan Wina

Written By: abdallah Oumbadougou

«Je m’adresse à mes amis révolutionnaires, mes frères, ces années nous les avons vécues ensemble en partageant les montagnes avec nos ennemis. Et qu’ils le veulent ou non ils doivent comprendre que notre combat est juste. Il est pour les droits de tout le monde.
Je l’ai écrite en 1992 pour donner de la force aux combattants.»


Written By: abdallah Oumbadougou

«C’est une chanson qui parle de la fin de la guerre, je l’ai écrite en 1998. Le Niger se couvrit de la lumière de la paix, Aujourd’hui la chanter est triste, mais un jour Niger tu seras heureux.
Pour que la paix soit respectée, il faut que le pays s’ouvre et donne du travail à tout le monde sans oublier ceux qui se sont battus pour sa liberté.»


1/ Desert Rebel - octobre 2006

Il y a le commerce équitable, il y a maintenant un disque équitable né de la rencontre du groupe touareg Takrist'Nakal et (notamment) du groupe "Tryo" , Amazigh Kateb et Daniel Jamet.

2/ Ishumars les rockeurs du désert - avril 2007 ( DVD)

Après Desert Rebel, la rencontre d'Abdallah Oumbadougou, guitariste et chanteur emblématique de la rébellion touareg au Niger avec Guizmo, Manu et Dalielito (Tryo), Imhotep (IAM), Daniel Jamet ...

3/ Desert rebel - Le film avril 2007