MIRAGE Taragalte :: a fertile desert in the region of Tamazgha
It’s past midnight in the village of M’Hamid el Ghizlane, and Hassan is waiting for us, roaring his 4×4. Once everyone is on the jeep, Hassan improvises a fast rally among the sandy dunes until we get to the nomadic bivouac set up for the guests of the festival. Bonfires light up the place outside each tent, so do the starts, up in the thick sky.
We wonder if we are inside an optical illusion or if we really are in a musical oasis: however, we see no lakes with fresh water or palms in the green nature, but a colossal metallic stage surrounded by a wave of black speakers. We hear no birds but the sound of electric guitars mingling with Arabic and African rhythms.
The performance goes beyond the stage time; behind that wave of speakers, after the artists’ official show, dozen of bonfires around the camp light up spectacular jam sessions where music from all over the world blend together, beautifully: dazed by this magic atmosphere, we can’t help listening to guitars, double bass, oud, djembé, darbuka, trumpets playing blues, jazz, afrobeat until dawn.
This is the soundtrack of the seventh edition of Taragalte, the festival that celebrates nomadic culture, gathering musicians from all over Africa on the Moroccan soil, every year. “Big” names of the world music scene such as TINARIWEN or OUM follow on stage emerging talents from Maghreb and other African areas.
Chatting with the Moroccan singer OUM during a break time in the hot afternoon, we start realising that “Taragalte is not just an annual Musicians rendezvous. This event is a proper desert celebration, an encouragement to bare in mind the cultural richness and the prosperity (almost divine) of this unique place, thanks to its people, its stories and, yes, thanks to its silence, so important for music.
…perhaps that’s right and that’s why we’re coming back with a different awareness; now, like never before, we can think of the desert like a particularly fertile and rich place, core of music production and home of beautiful talents.
Taragalte, nevertheless placed at the geographical end of any Moroccan road, it’s not the end indeed, but the symbolic beginning of something new. The Desert, within its endless lonely land become the tool for people to overcome borders and limits, which turn into mere imaginary lines on the sand. This is the land of free men (Tamazgha), the Berbers. And it is by witnessing their musical trades and mingles that we find out a new universe of relations, stories, musical patterns, artists and poets. How about if we are still in the illusion? Let’s see what’s at the end of the road in M’Hamid el Ghizlane to find out.
Text: Matteo Gallo
Photography: Giulia Frigieri