Tamikrest — the junction, the alliance, the future
January 2008. I am in the middle of the Sahara, about six hours away from the myth-enshrouded desert city of Timbuktu. I am with the band Dirtmusic, who have been invited to play the legendary "Festival au desert". Fans as well as musicians sleep in tents. At daybreak the sound of guitars, drums and the transcendental "bli-bli-bli..." of female voices wake us up. The members of Dirtmusic grab their guitars and join the young musicians. The psychedelic jam session lasts three days and is highlighted by a performance on the festival main stage.
This was the foundation of a wonderful friendship and the remarkable career of Tamikrest.
A year later in January 2009 Dirtmusic and Tamikrest record the album BKO together.
Juli 2009 sees the release of Adagh, the debut album of Tamikrest.
In 2010 a highly celebrated tour leads them through twelve european countries. Tamikrest record their second album Toumastin in October 2010.
Who are Tamikrest, the band that ex-Tinariwen manager und world music guru Andrew Morgan praised as being “…the definite future of Tuareg music”?
The young men and women are from Kidal in Mali and visited the school in Tinzaouweten. Their childhood and youth is shaped by the Tuareg riots that evolved into a civil war between 1990 and 1995. Many of their friends and family were killed during that time.
Tamikrest decided to play with guitars instead of Kalashnikows. Their goal was to improve their lives by letting the world know about their desperate situation through their music.
The lyrics deal with the situation of the Tuaregs, about a youth without future, the loss of their culture — but also about love: the love of life and the love for the vast expanse of their home the Sahara.
In their youth they played the traditional songs of the Kel Tamashek (as they call themselves) or the revolutionary tunes of Tinariwen. Only later on, when musicassettes were swapped and the internet arrived in Africa, they found new musical heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, Pink Floyd or Bob Marley that influenced their songs and sound.
On their latest album Toumastin all these influences are merged into a completely new musical style. The hypnotic traditional drumming is pushing the psychelic wah wah-guitars while the mantra-like chants are floating on keyboards or a lonely violin to create the yearning Tuaregblues.
Tamikrest are fighting for a better world. They are ambassadors of the Tuareg culture and deeply rooted in their tradition. Chris Eckman, musician and producer, says appropriately: “Wherever they are, they carry the desert with them.”
The word Tamikrest means junction, alliance, future — with their gentle and inoffensive character Tamikrest are the best example in the quest for freedom and peace as well as an asset in the intercontinental cultural exchange.
In deep friendship and sympathy
To the Touareg youth:
We must all recognize that we belong to a community and a culture, and that this culture is our strength in the eyes of others.
The Touareg youth must pay attention to their homeland 'Azawad' and to the towns, villages and camps in which the real Touareg live. The development of this territory and these settlements is a personal and collective duty for all of us. No one will work for the preservation of our land if we do not do it ourselves. As proof, you only need to consider the fifty years during which these nation states have been harboring us, and then take a look at the conditions in which we live and the state of abandon in which our people and our lands find themselves today. It’s a situation that can only rend any heart that loves our people in two.
We all have a duty to our people. That duty is to preserve our culture and our identity, to ceaselessly demand our basic rights at both a regional and international level, and to emphasize our right to self-determination, without which it will be difficult for us to deal with all the problems that we face.
The Touareg youth must not remain indifferent to the fact that we have become strangers in our own land. Our towns have been invaded thanks to a strategy of settlement and migration, which is slowly killing us. The sale of our lands to multinational companies without our consent is a form of dispossession. A people without land, like ours, who until now have always enjoyed space and freedom, will inevitably suffer from this dispossession for eternity.
To the world:
The international community must not turn a deaf ear to the possible disappearance of a people like ours, the Touareg, which would be an immense loss to all humanity. The world today sees the suffering of the Touareg, but few are the voices that speak out, or the ears that listen to our people who burn inside with the suffering of entire generations for more than half a century, thanks to the Balkanisation of their lands by nation states that they do not recognize, states which pursue a policy of discrimination against our people with the aim of wiping them out. The living conditions of people in the Sahara, who are poorer than ever, bears witness to this.
The world must listen to the Touareg heart and help them to realise their vision, which is none other than the following: The Touareg demand that the injustice of which they are all victims ceases forthwith, that what is ours by right be restored to us, that’s to say, our lands and the power to determine our own destiny. The Touareg want to live in freedom in their homeland and end of this form of colonisation, which has prevailed since fifty years, in other words, for far too long.
(translated by Andy Morgan)