Mariem Hassan at WOMAD 2010 New Plymouth

I caught this quiet moment between Mariem and her drummer and dancer (the ground drums are played by women) at the WOMAD welcome on the Owae marae in Waitara, New Zealand.

Let's dance! Mariem Hasan on TSB Bowl stage

Listen to Mariem here

This is the background info I was given about this talented woman:

“After more than 30 years of performing, Mariem Hassan is hailed as the true voice of the Western Sahara. Her people are Saharawis, living in exile within Algeria since Spain abandoned the Western Sahara in 1975 and their desert lands were claimed by Morocco. Within the Algerian refugee camps, women singers are recognised as pillars of strength, humanising the harsh living conditions through their powerful songs of hope. Mariem sings in Hassania, the language of her dessert homeland and deemed closest to classical Arabic. During the 1970s, Mariem joined forces with Matir el Uali Mustafa Sayed (more popularly known as El Uali), touring internationally with his band until she recorded her first solo album, Deseos, during 2005. In concert, her intense voice sits atop two electric guitars (substituting for the rustic tidinit) and two tebals (ground-drums played by women), melding ancient spiritual sounds with whispers of blues, reggae and other current music, driving her music into the 21st century. Different dances, performed by the percussionists, enrich a repertoire based on traditional and spiritual songs. Her solo fame has been further enhanced by a documentary film, Mariem Hassan, The Voice of the Sahara, released in 2008 at the Fisahara Festival.”  (I watched this film at WOMAD 2010 New Plymouth and it was moving –there’s no doubt this mother of five is a rebel with a  cause)


Quite an interview: the translator is German and Mariem was speaking in Spanish

NOTE: This blog is one of a series about my recent  road trip to WOMAD 2010 (World of Music and Dance) held annually in New Plymouth and other parts of the world:  I was travelling in a Backpacker campervan, and on the Interislander ferry over Cook Strait – from Christchurch to WOMAD and back again: enjoy, and leave me a comment or two!

To find the other blogs about the trip, look up the categories to the right of this blog page: ie WOMAD; Interislander Ferry; Music; Campervan, Maori, and bookmark this page, or sign up for an email update for when I add new bogs n the series – they will include the Maori welcome to the artists, links to music by my favourites, cooking with some of the various singers, the Gyuto Monks with their mediations, singing and cooking, and of course, my road trip in the campervan, and lots of photos of people at WOMAD.

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

Nomadic travel-writer, photographer, author & blogger. See more on and Amazon for my books (heather hapeta)