Tuareg guitarist and singer Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a star guitarist and singer from the Sahara desert. Born and raised in Niger, he is a member of the Tuareg Ifoghas tribe, a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa.
Bombino first picked up a guitar left behind by relatives visiting from the front lines of the rebellion against the government in Niger, and studied with the renowned Tuareg guitarist Haja Bebe, who asked him to join his band. It was then that he acquired the nickname Bombino—a variation on the Italian word for “little child.”
In his teens, Bombino worked regularly as a herder in the desert, spending many hours alone watching the animals and practicing his guitar. His friends would show him videos of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler that he watched over and over in an effort to master their licks.
In 2009, Bombino met filmmaker Ron Wyman, who had heard a cassette of Bombino’s music while traveling. Wyman spent a year seeking him out, eventually tracking him down to Burkina Faso, where he was in exile after two band members were killed in a rebellion. At the end of the war, Bombino returned to Niger with Wyman and staged a peace concert that was to establish him as a hero of the Tuareg people.
His new album introduces a new style that Bombino is pioneering called ‘Tuareggae’ – a sunny blend of Tuareg blues/ rock with reggae one-drop and bounce.