Mdou Moctar, the acclaimed Tuaregian folk-rock fusion guitarist has launched a GoFundMe to help him and his bandmates stay in the US amidst a coup d’etat in his home country of Niger.
In an Instagram post, the guitarist wrote “Last week while we were on tour our home of Niger was plunged into chaos when a coup took place. As a result, we are unable to return home to our loved ones and must remain abroad indefinitely.”
On July 26, the country’s presidential guard commander Abdourahamane Tchiani – who has occupied the position for the last 12 years – led the country’s presidential guards into an operation in which president Mohamed Bazoum was forcefully detained.
Tchiani subsequently declared himself as the president of a transitional government he called the “National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” during a state television address.
In the broadcasted speech, Tchiani asserts that the group were driven by a need to “protect our beloved homeland” arguing that the democratically elected Bazoum has allegedly failed to prevent the country’s “continuing deterioration”.
However, in comparison to its neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso and Mali, the latter of which experienced a “coup within a coup” in 2021, many see Niger as been a beacon of democratic stability in recent years.
“The current security approach has failed to secure our country”, the general read, “despite the country’s heavy sacrifices.”
According to a report from the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, though Niger saw a 43% increase in the occurrence of violence from militant Islamists events, the number of fatalities resulting from this has actually dropped in the last year.
Currently, Bazoum refuses to resign as president, and Tchiani is currently showing no sign of backing down. Niger-born Mdou Moctar grew up in a remote village amidst a highly religious area that prohibited secular music at the time.
After teaching himself to play guitar in secret, his innovative take on Saharan music, which he attributes to the music he grew up listening to from “Tuareg guitar greats”, along with his poetic lyrics allowed him to quickly garner a large following within the nation and abroad.
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Though many consider his music a Saharan take on rock, the guitarist asserts that “I don’t know what rock is exactly… I only know how to play in my style.”
The artist and his two bandmates were completing a tour of North America when they learnt that they would be unable to return to their homeland. The GoFundMe set up initially asked for $25,000 to cover the costs of housing, living expenses and some other essentials while they remain in the US.
The page has greatly surpassed the group’s goals, and is currently at $76,891 in donations. You can find the link to donate here
Tiffanie Ibe is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram
Written by: Tim Hopkins