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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

In Niger, the rhythmic beats of traditional drumming are fading into obscurity as the younger generation gravitates towards rap and electronic music, leaving the rich heritage in peril. Renowned musician Oumarou Adamou, known as Maidouma, showcases the artistry of the douma drum, but decoding its language becomes increasingly rare in the face of modern musical preferences.

While Maidouma represents Niger’s musical legacy globally, back home, he safeguards a collection of traditional instruments at Niamey’s Centre of Musical Training and Promotion. However, the survival of these instruments is at risk, as the allure of modern instruments like guitars and drums overshadows traditional craftsmanship.

Concerns heighten as aging practitioners of instruments like the molo and kalangou fear that the intricate knowledge will vanish with their generation. Financial constraints hinder conservation efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries, exacerbated by diplomatic tensions and a youth population increasingly drawn to computer-based composition over traditional apprenticeships.

The rise of a strict interpretation of Islam and a prevailing caste system that limits instrument playing to certain classes add additional barriers to the preservation of Niger’s musical heritage. In contrast to neighboring Mali and Nigeria, Niger’s traditional music struggles to modernize and connect with global influences.

In an attempt to revive interest, artist and teacher Mahaman Sani Mati conducts workshops for underprivileged youth to learn and create traditional instruments. However, the challenges persist, with societal perceptions of griots, or traditional musicians, hindering their acceptance.

Despite these obstacles, efforts are underway to instill pride in ancestral values through education. Students like Aichata Adamou, learning to craft traditional instruments, hope to benefit from their skills. Mati emphasizes the importance of fostering a connection to these values, challenging the trend of mimicking foreign influences.

Rapper Oumarou Abourahamane, part of the new generation of students, expresses a newfound appreciation for Niger’s unique instruments, urging fellow musicians to embrace their heritage instead of imitating foreign trends.

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