Aziza Brahim: Sahari

Desert Dream

Listening Post 250. On the poignant album cover a girl in ballet shoes and a tutu poses against the backdrop of a refugee camp. Aziza Brahim’s enchanting desert blues are yet to come but the singer-songwriter has already riveted our attention to the story of her people. Brahim herself was born in a camp a year after her mother fled Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, Spain’s last colonial foothold in Africa. The 1975 invasion displaced tens of thousands, many of whom remain with their descendants—and their provisional government—in the makeshift sanctuaries around Tindouf, Algeria. Now living in Barcelona, Brahim has become the voice of the Sahrawis and, by extension, of refugees worldwide. Like the cover image, Sahari (The Deserts), her fifth album, offers a graceful-powerful portrait of her people’s pain, struggle, optimism and determination to return to their homeland. Her songs form a narrative poem of exile and redemption, of lost villages and received wisdom, of starry skies and dark shadows, of sand that erases footprints but not memories. She sings in Hassaniya Arabic, as well as in Spanish, her old-new fusion flowing from her roots and more recent sonic horizons—tabal drum, guitar, keyboard and programming. Brahim’s addictive cadences adorn the assertive Hada Jil (This Generation, video 1), honoring the youth assuming community leadership today, and Mujayam (Camps, video 2), in which the wilderness blooms with hope. Inspiration prevails in Leil (Night, video 3), amid the sound of ezgarit, the extra-rapid ululation of Sahrawi women; while the hypnotic title track promises freedom to pasture camels in recovered towns and transform the deserts into paradise (video 4). And the album’s most traditional song, Cuatro Proverbios (Four Sayings, video 5) is a mantra of peace. As long as they are dispersed, one of the most effective guidance systems the Sahrawi have is Aziza Brahim’s resonant call. (Glitterbeat)

Aziza Brahim: Sahari / The Deserts / الصحاري
Aziza Brahim; Vocals, tabal, ezgarit, rhythm guitar, producer

Badra Abdellahe: Ezgarit
Ignasi Cussó: Electric guitar, rhythm guitar
Guillem Aguilar: Bass guitar
Aleix Tobias: Drums, percussions

Special guests:
Pep Mendoza: Electric guitar
Amparo Sánchez: Vocals, co-producer
Gerard Casajús: Sound engineer
Willy Fuego: Bass, rhythm and electric guitar, sound technician
Oscar Ferret: Piano, keyboard
Nando Picó: Sax
Mayito Vega: Programming

 

Hada Jil / This Generation / هذ جيل
Lyrics & Music: Aziza Brahim

(From the Arabic lyrics, all translations to English by Erika Funa)
The youth has declared/
With conviction it’s pledged
Not a shred of its land/Will be taken away

The youth that takes over/The fight every day
Proclaims in its melodies/It’ll drive mad the authorities

The youth of today/Is organizing its entity
And facing every challenge/With integrity

 

Mujayam / Camps
Lyrics & Music: Aziza Brahim

The life around me is in bloom/And my heart is preparing for it too
All I want is to persist in the fight/Until freedom is finally found

The path to peace is necessary/A peaceful solution
That pertains/To this great nation
Because the land belongs to the one/That has given it life

You can cage the bird/But you cannot silence its tune

In my language, Hassaniya/I’m turning to you
Listen closely to this song/That implicates you

 

Leil / Night / ليل
Lyrics & Music: Aziza Brahim

Black night/Moonless
Mother of Time
There are so many stars/Shining in the sky

Black shadow/Of the family tree
Who rejects/The shelter of your cold breeze

Night, night, night…

There is so much that captures/The attention of the eye
But the unknown/Is hidden between the shadows of the night

Night, night, night

They listened to the sound/Of the guitar, as it filled the air
And they danced that night
And the Arazam blazed/Switching between Agarran and Libleida

Night, night, night

 

Sahari / The Deserts / الصحاري
Lyrics & Music: Aziza Brahim

I will pasture my camels here/From Mahbes to El Guerguerat
Genuinely, with culture and nobility/I will welcome everyone

I will cultivate so much harmony/Filling my heart with meaning
I’ll live with intensity/The hope and joys that await me

The years have passed, gone by, gone/And here I am, desperate for my freedom
The years have passed, gone by, gone/And I’m here, hungry for freedom

“You will have your freedom/Dear people, inshallah”

I will cultivate so much harmony/Filling my heart with meaning
I’ll live with intensity/Turning to paradise the deserts

 

Cuatro Proverbios / Four Sayings
Lyrics & Music: Aziza Brahim

Only two words exist: One is war, the other peace

The only one who seeks war/Is one who’s never known it

The purpose of a dialogue/Is to conclude it

Never play/With peace

 

 


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