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French reporter Arnaud Contreras has been travelling for many years in the whole Saharan regions, exploring extensively the local musical culture. He launched a crowdfunding campaign that will end in the coming days in order to finish his project Sahara Rocks.
“The Saharan Society is changing fast. Most populated cities such as Tamanrasset or Timbuktu are microcosms revealing all the problems of those former touristic regions: threats of violence, trafficking, illegal migration, and new pressure on cultural and natural heritage.
One way Saharan and Tuareg youth have tried to escape these tribulations has been the crafting of a new culture, centered around cybercafés, mobile phones, festivals and “soirées guitares” celebrating their guitar heroes, the “ishumar“, such as Tinariwen, Terakaft, Bombino, and Tamikrest.
In their songs they celebrate the link between the desert nature, old poetry, saharan culture and of course women, whose role is essential in their society. Some texts act as a call for rebellion, but mainly they are calls for a self consciousness of their people, of their identity.
For 15 years, I have regularly travelled to the Sahara. I often met with musicians or their relatives, so they’re my first contact with the society. I try, through my reports and documentaries, to share what they show me of the modern-day Sahara.
Up until now, my projects have been completely self-funded via film productions, exhibitions, publications and radio documentaries. I am currently seeking funding to complete the “Sahara Rocks!” project, to take the two more trips to Sahara that will allow me to finish this project and publish a book.”
All pictures by Arnaud Contreras.