Voice of America visits a traditional Moroccan music festival (video below):
In late January, I traveled to the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco to participate in an African music festival called Festival Taragalte. It took place in the dunes just outside the dusty oasis town of M’Hamid El Ghizlane or “Town of the Gazelles.” It was the Door of the Sahara or “Porte du Sahara” where the great, trans-Saharan caravans from Timbuktu and other desert regions came to exchange gold, slaves, ostrich feathers, and ivory for North African manufactured items like dates, clothes, and Arabic manuscripts. Taragalte is the old name for the city. The Taragalte Festival is modeled after the town’s traditional festival (moussem) that used to celebrate the end of the date season and long journeys of the caravans. The moussem, almost extinct today in the region, was celebrated annually with music and dance, song, poetry and other oral traditions.
It brought together all of the region’s diverse tribes, local populations, merchants and caravaners in the spirit of goodwill and prosperity. The Taragalte Festival, now in its 6th year, seeks to restore the moussem with a new focus on music of trans-Saharan nomads. Here’s a glimpse of the official opening as I filmed it, prefaced with a roadside peek at the Draa Valley as we drove down to M’Hamid from Ouarzazate.
The performers above are nomadic folk troupes from the region performing traditional Berber and gnawa (gnaoua) music and dances: the ahidous, rokba, ganga and chamra. The electric rock band on stage is also a local group called “Generation Taragalte”…[Full Story]