Interview: Bombino

Bombino at Mullum Festival

The Love Bombino

15–18 November | Throughout the town of Mullumbimby, NSW

He was born in the heart of Africa, under the shade of an acacia tree just 80 miles northwest of the ancient town of Agadez, but the stories Tuareg singer/songwriter Omara ‘Bombino’ Moctar shares on his new album Deran are also contemporary, and detail the struggles of so many. In his song Tehigren (The Trees) he sings, ‘This era is hard, it is very hard. For my brothers to realise their dreams they have left their homes looking for happiness elsewhere, wherever they can find hope.’

Music changes lives. It certainly has changed Bombino’s, who says, ‘I became obsessed with the guitar around 1990 as it became a symbol of freedom and it pulled me toward it’. The release of his album Agadez in 2011 was a defining moment in his life and saw a man who had lost his country reclaim the country of his own dreams.

‘There was a big shift in my life. I went from being a refugee from 2007 till 2009 to living in Agadez until 2011, and then travelling all around the world for most of the year in every year since. My life is now mostly nomadic, taking me all over the planet. It is tiring and difficult but at the same time I love it. I love to play my music everywhere that I can and share it with people who appreciate it.’

Bombino’s passion for his culture and telling his story is what drives his music.

‘I consider myself a Tuareg musician and cultural ambassador to the rest of the world. It is a big part of my mission as an artist to share the beauty and wisdom of Tuareg culture with the rest of the world,’ he says.

But in the end his inspiration is love.

‘I draw my inspiration from love – love of my family, of my people, of my country, of the great Sahara ‘we call it the Tenere). These are the things that touch my heart and inspire me to write the lyrics of my music.’

Mullum Music Festival celebrates the stories of artists and the stories they in turn share. Bombino sings about he beauty of Tuareg culture and people and how ‘we must be vigilant to preserve and protect our traditions in the face of the modern world’. This is the perfect message delivered in the heart of a global village like Mullumbimby.

Hot on the heels of his European tour, Bombino brings the magic of his music not just to capital cities but also to back to the village, with two dates slated for Mullum Music Festival when he appears Friday 16 and Saturday 17 November.


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