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Niger is a country that has two distinct areas. The sub Sahara desert and the greener irrigated south west. The Niger river runs from Mali through Niger and Nigeria to the a giant arc....and one of the things that has become clear from this journey of exploration is that the Gulf of Guinea coast has little tradition and many multi cultural influences. The traditional instruments have survived where ethnic groups have travelled historically, which would appear to be around the river confluences! The Niger river has been a highway for traders for many generations. The Mandinka influence can be traced directly to the path of the Niger, and across the Malian desert to the Gambia and Senegal rivers. It is the coastal region from Siera Leone to Benin that has embraced the American and European popular cultural influence, and along the way lost a great deal of its traditions and tribal history! 

A vast, arid state on the edge of the Sahara desert, Niger endured austere military rule for much of its post-independence history and is rated by the UN as one of the world's least-developed nations. The drought-prone country struggles to feed its people. In Niger, one in five children die before their fifth birthday, and the countrys child mortality rate is the 11th highest in the world. 66% of the countrys population live below the poverty line (US$1.25 a day). Niger faces yearly food shortages but in 2004 the combined effect of drought and a locust invasion created an emergency situation where feeding programmes became essential. Its main export, uranium, is prone to price fluctuations and agriculture is threatened by the encroaching desert. Niger is bargaining on oil exploration and gold mining to boost its fortunes. 

Historically a gateway between North and sub-Saharan Africa, Niger came under French rule in the late 1890s. After independence in 1960 its progress was stymied by political instability and a five-year drought, which devastated livestock and crops. With little primary education, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Its health system is basic and disease is widespread.  After a break of a decade, Niger again experienced an insurgency by Tuareg rebels in the north in 2007. The Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) complained that a 1995 peace deal that ended the previous insurgency has never been fully implemented and that the region remains marginalised. The group demands greater autonomy and a larger share of uranium revenue.

In 2009, the MNJ and the government held talks in Libya, at which they committed themselves to a "total and comprehensive" peace. In 1999 voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution providing for presidential and legislative multi-party elections. These took place later in the year and saw Mamadou Tandja elected as president. Mr Tandja introduced a new constitution in 2009 to extend his powers in a move described by the opposition as a coup. He was himself overthrown in a coup at the beginning of 2010. Niger banned the centuries-old practice of slavery in 2003. But anti-slavery organisations say thousands of people still live in subjugation.


The Music of Niger

Tuareg Music (Niger)

Illalagh Teneree - Desert Rebel

Mariage Touareg avec Koudede

River Niger Orchestra

Francophony 2007

Sogha Niger

Sogha Niger Yala Yala

Lledeman  Etran Finatawa

Desert Rebel

"Sexy Girls" Hassane Boukary


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