Living with…Tinariwen…for a week

I’m a Sahrawi…get me out of here – 2002

I know it’ll be the tenth anniversary of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here this summer because it’ll coincide with the anniversary of  a wonderful and challenging week that we spent with two small boys who came to stay with us back in 2002.

The two boys aged 8 and 7, B and H, were Sahrawi from a largely forgotten people who inhabited a disputed strip of land known as Westerm Sahara somewhere between Algeria and Morocco.  Without going in to the detailed politics of the land and the people, I need only say that the two boys came from one of the longest standing refugee camps in the world – the boys would have been born there and  would have known little existence outside this isolated world.

So, we took the rather brave step of hosting these two boys for a week as part of a wider group of Sahrawi and children.  The music of Tinariwen has taken me back to those memories, although I should hasten to add the Tuareg are a different group of people altogether!

We knew no Sahrawi to speak, the boys had a limited vocabulary which basically revolved around variations on the word no, No or NO relayed at different volumes.  So much so that B became Dr No for us, as this tended to be the sole extent of his English repertoire.  I’m not sure he ever understood the James Bond reference, and that would have been way too complicated to explain.

It was an exhausting week of communication by gesture, discovering our house was far from child safe and prolific drinking of heavily sugared mint tea.  Or as we would ask to their bafflement – would you like some tea with that sugar?  Out favourite moments were sitting together in the evenings snacking while we all worked our way through the puzzlement that is British TV.  The two boys would drink tea and cackle in front of the TV like little gremlins – roaring with laughter at inappropriate moments during a soap, tutting like old men at an on screen kiss and  booing when George Bush came on to the news and like ourselves staring in open-mouthed astonishment at the more disgusting moments of  I’m A Celebrity…

Funnily enough no problem with the teletubbies, they were accepted as is and seemed totally natural.

I thought about them this week, they’ll be young men maybe even with families of their own now.  I wonder if they’re still in the camps or have managed to find a life elsewhere.  Quite a lot of Sahrawi have made lives in Spain.  For a brief week it was wonderful to share our lives with them.


Tinariwen – Aman Iman (Water is Life) (20070

You have to move further south to Mali to find the band Tinariwen and their roots.  The band are Tuareg-Berber, but likewise have unconventional backgrounds for international musicians.  Some had been drafted in to an army formed by Gaddafi in the past, some have been rebel fighters.  But all are dedicated to promoting the strain of music that comes from the desert.  The name of the group roughly translates as ‘The Desert Boys’.

This is the most distinctive of the ‘world’ sounds that I have explored in January.  Although predominantly guitar-based and you could argue bluesy in feel, it is the vocals that mark this out.  The harmonies are unusual, the whoops and calls are almost those of Hollywood Western ‘injuns’ while the language sounds wonderfully guttural and  challenging.  Aman Iman could be described as their breakthrough album, and has made for a lively companion for the week.


#henswontlay III

Yet again, I have an eggless week from the 7 girls in the garden.  I continue to persuade them to lay through an appropriate choice of music.  This says it all.

(I can’t get no) eggs – The Rolling Stones

No eggs today – Hermans Hermits

Un oeuf is un oeuf – Donna Summer 

Eggadoo – Black Lace

We Don’t Need No Eggucation – Pink Floyd (thanks @bobzlenz)

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing – Jack Johnson

Looks like we’ll be in to #henswontlay IV.

And finally…

It’s been a week for another P compilation where I attempt to please all with new music for the long journeys and pottering about.  The usual suspects are there – JLS, One Direction – but I’ve had to concede some ground and include a Coldplay track.

But the favourite is a classic Muppet track that I failed to include at Christmas so it is, of course, this week’s video.  And I’d like to put on record that the Brighton fans’ rendition of Mahna Mahna at their last away game did the song some justice, but I’m not really sure it did.

Until next week,

Mahna Mahna
Do doo be-do-do
Mahna Mahna
Do do-do do
Mahna Mahna
Do doo be-do-do be-do-do be-do-do be-do-do-doodle do do do-doo do!