The Sahara is changing fast. Still a beautiful desert but not just that. Most populated cities such as Tamanrasset or Timbuktu are microcosms that reveal all the problems of those former touristic regions: threats of terrorism, trafficking, illegal migration and pressures on cultural and natural heritages. The only ways to escape this harsh reality for Saharan and Tuareg youth are cybercafés, mobile phone culture, festivals and soirées guitare (“guitar evenings”) celebrating their guitar heroes, the “Ishumar”, such as Tinariwen, Terakaft, Tamikrest, Bombino and many other bands. In their songs they celebrate the link between desert nature, old poetry, and of course women, whose role is essential in their society. Some texts may seem like calls for rebellion, but mainly those are calls for a self-consciousness as a people, of their identities.
Zambia’s victory in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations was a great story, and one that even the crustiest of cynics could get behind. A team returned to the site of the national tragedy in which their fathers’ wonderfully talented generation of footballers were killed, and won the trophy against overwhelming odds. They sung in unison as the emotional penalty shootout unfolded, and when the celebrations began, the coach picked up an injured player and carried him across the pitch to his jubilant teammates. What wasn’t to like?