Interview with the Nigerien diva, Hamsou Garba
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Born on December 25, 1958 in Maradi, Hamsou Garba is a singer, dancer, and announcer on Radio Touraki. She has also had the opportunity to do some acting.

FOFO:When was your passion for music born?

H. GARBA:When I was very young. In fact, it was because of music that I gave up my studies at school. Singing is a gift for me. I did not learn it or inherit it from anyone. My very first song was Allah ka tamaïki Niger (God Helps Niger). That was in 1976. It can still be heard on air on Voice of the Sahel.


FOFO: When did you create your group, Anashua?

H. GARBA:In 1991. Anashua means "ambiance." We started off with 25 members. Today, there are 18 of us.


FOFO:You had your first song 35 years ago, but what about your first album?

H. GARBA:It came out very recently. I released my first album in 2008. It's called, Gargadi (Raising Consciousness), and includes 7 titles. In 2009, I released a second album of 11 titles called, Tout est possible (Everything is Possible). This year I'm working on the release of two albums, Les hommes de l’histoire (Men of History), containing 8 titles and, Aouran dollé (Arranged Marriage), with 9 titles.

I have also recorded another album, dedicated to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its various governors. I composed all of my own songs, except Laguireto, which I took from the Nigerian music tradition.


FOFO:What do your songs talk about?

H. GARBA:My songs talk about love, and I try to also make Nigeriens aware of the sociopolitical and cultural problems that we face.


FOFO:What kinds of musical instruments do you use?

H. GARBA:Traditional instruments such as the tam-tam (a type of drum), the ganga (a percussion instrument), the violin, the flute, the kountidji (a percussion instrument), and the douma (a type of drum). I also use modern instruments like the guitar and bass.


FOFO:Have you had the opportunity to travel a lot because of your work?

H. GARBA:In 1996, I toured in the sub-Saharan region performing in Ouagadougou, Accra, Cotonou, and Lomé. In 1999, I was invited to the inauguration of President Obassanjo in Abuja, Nigeria. That same year, I was invited to the 32nd anniversary of the inauguration of the Guide of Lybia. In 2000, I hosted an exhibition in Germany. In 2002, I was invited to the inauguration of the Malian president. This year, I was invited to give a performance in Rennes, France and in Belgium.


FOFO:You also have a radio station.

H. GARBA:Yes. On January 1, 2006, I established the radio station Touraki FM.


FOFO:You often perform at official events, but when will there be a concert that is just 100% Hamsou Garba?


H. GARBA:It's true that I have never organized a concert for just me because it takes time and I am always busy. But this year, I am preparing for the release of my three albums. It's going to happen in November during the Zanzaro Festival organized by my radio station.


FOFO:You participated in Djogol Culture. Can you talk to us about that?

H. GARBA:In fact, at the time, we noticed that Nigerien cultural leadership consisted of a clique of leaders and artists who were not in a position to do anything for this country. Because of this clique, Nigerien culture did not make any progress for several years. Between the two parties, large contracts were signed so that, in the end, they could share the loot. We called these people Danfareïzeye (crooks, conmen) in Zarma. They couldn't have cared less about culture or Niger. This is what motivated Djogol Cultureto denounce and condemn this kind of behavior. We got satisfaction from our efforts because not soon afterwards, the Secretary General of the ministry in question was dismissed. After that, the Presidency of the Republic of that time gave us the honor of choosing a replacement for this post ourselves. On top of that, one of the creators of Djogol Culture, Pheno, was nominated Cultural Councilor to the President of the Republic. Today, the creators of this collective are involved in many of the decisions made by the Ministry of Culture.


FOFO:Please give us your thoughts on the development of Nigerien music.

H. GARBA:Nigerien music is not moving forward because we don't have any support. There are many prominent societies in this country, but unfortunately, they don't do anything for our culture. Even though artists go back and forth to ask for help, these societies are incapable of supporting even a few concerts. I applaud the support given to artists by the Ministry, but it is not enough. I also applaud the courage of all the artists who preserver despite the absence of support. Another problem is that as soon as we release an album, it is automatically pirated. Piracy puts a huge brake on our careers.


FOFO:What would be some solutions to this problem?

H. GARBA:Artists should attend education workshops. During General Ali Saïbou's regime, it was the government who took care of this. In each sector, there were workshops.


FOFO:What are your relations with other artists?

H. GARBA:I maintain a good relationship with artists. Among them, some call me 'Aunt,' others call me 'Big Sister.' I do the best I can for those who come to me.


FOFO:Your final thoughts?

H. GARBA:I hope that artists will not become discouraged. If they truly work as hard as they should, everything will be OK. Today, I am proud that our new minister truly realizes the hardships that artists face. I am going to take advantage of this interview to ask musicians to stop creating songs that only have bad words, to stop the Mapouka style of music. It is, unfortunately, the case for most bands, at the beginning and end of their songs, to repeat so-and-so's name, without any sense or meaning. Is that music?

Traduction: Irene Waggener

Friday, August 12, 2011

Article publié le vendredi 12 août 2011
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