SGAE Members Donate Guitars for Saharawi Musicians


A few weeks ago, SGAE, the main collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers in Spain, put out a call to its members to donate guitars to the Una guitarra para el Sáhara program. Una guitarra para el Sáhara seeks donations of used (or new) electric guitars to musicians from the Western Sahara. The purpose is to preserve Saharawi musical culture. 

Musicians and producers have already donated 19 guitars throughout various parts of Spain. SGAE members can donate guitars at any of the SGAE offices. The deadline for the collection of guitars is September 15 of 2009. The leading Saharawi musicians are SGAE members, including Alal Nayim, Mohamed Larousi, Mariem Hassan and Mohamed Salek.

Spanish record producer and videographer Manuel Dominguez started the program in 2008 to collect new and used electric guitars destined for Saharawi refugee musicians living in Algeria. Una Guitarra para el Sáhara intends to provide Saharawi musicians with a tool to create music. In the 1970s, electric guitars replaced the traditional [wiki:tidnit] in Saharawi music. "The electric guitar, together with the tebal drum is the basic musical instrument that accompanies the song, dance and poetry in traditional Saharawi concerts," says Dominguez.

Around 150,000 Saharawi refugees from the Western Sahara (former Spanish Sahara) live in tents in the Algerian desert. "You can count the number of Saharawi electric guitars with your fingers," says Dominguez. "Ten years ago, every wilaya (camp) had six or seven guitarists. Now, places like the Dajla wilaya have to wait for one of the few remaining guitarist from the north to travel there to perform a concert or provide entertainment for weddings."

Young musicians are unable to develop bands because of the lack of musical instruments. "For this reason, it is urgent to train a new generation of guitarists that will help the Saharawi people cope with the long wait in exile in the desert," adds Dominguez.

Dominguez is reaching out to musicians, music festivals, institutions and NGOs and any other organization that is able to provide electric guitars. "If you have an electric guitar in storage or a closet, after years of service, and you think a Saharawi musician will be able to play it again, with newfound enthusiasm, we have made a commitment to deliver it to their hands."

The guitars will not be given away at random. the Saharawi Ministry of Culture will carry out musical workshops to train young musicians in Saharawi guitar techniques. Afterwards, musicians will be taught the basics of the haul (traditional Saharawi music) and then they’ll be able to let loose their inspiration. "Guitars will be personalized," says Dominguez. "Every guitar will have the name of the musician that donated the instrument. In the case of institutions, the guitar will carry the logo of the donor. That way, if a Saharawi guitarist conquers the world stages, everybody will know who made it possible."

Guitars will be carried from Spain to the Saharawi camps in Algeria. Getting electric guitars to Spain from outside the European continent may be difficult so potential donors may want to consider cash donations to purchase used guitars in Spain. For more information or to donate a guitar, contact:  Manuel Dominguez, Nubenegra. Phones: +34 91 360-1620 or +34 607 740-658,

Saharawi recordings available in North America: Music of Western Sahara (boxed set), Starry Nights in Western Sahara.

Saharawi recordings available in Europe: Western Sahara (Saharawi remixes), Starry Nights in the Western Sahara, Africa – Sahrauis: the Music of the Western Sahara (boxed set), Mariem Hassan con Leyoad, Cantos Antiguos Saharauis,  Deseos, and Nar.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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