Aman-Imam: Water Is Life

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“It's music of longing and rebellion, weary wisdom and restless energy, and it sounds so, so good. Don't let it pass you by.”
- Pitchfork (UK)

  1. Cler Achel

  2. Mano Dayak

  3. Matadjem Yinmixan

  4. Ahimana

  5. Soixante Trois

  6. Toumast

  7. Imidiwan Winakalin

  8. Awa Didjen

  9. Ikyadarh Dim

  10. Tamatant Tilay

  11. Assouf

  12. Izarharh Tenere


LYRICS

Cler Achel (J’ai passé la journée)

I spent the day and still the following night
I spent the day and still the following night
I spent a whole season travelling
I spent a whole season travelling 

You’ve gone, Mila, you’ve already gone and I’ve plunged deeper into my dreams
Whatever my thoughts, she occupies them all, and my heart cries out still

It’s a time which separates the beloved from those they love
And when you think of them, painful obsessive thoughts are all that come

Mano Dayak 

I come from a ténéré[i] well used to sandstorms
I take my rest under the shadeless Anna et Tadjart bushes
I have never seen enough trees to make a forest
Ma home is the Tamesna[ii] white, naked and empty
It affords pasture to neither goat nor cow
It is the land of the young camel, who wanders after its mother 

I come to a Ténéré which lies to the north of Bouss
A desert which is totally naked
Without a single tree, or even a twig
And when men travel there, it’s always hot 

Now I’ve seen something that fills me with joy
A Tamashek who is living well
And talking of his life through a modern communication device
Tied to the tree under which he rests
The buds fall all around him
All of that is thanks to Mano Dayak

Matadjem Yinmixan  (Pourquoi cette haine entre vous?)

Why all this hate between you, which you teach your children?

Why all this hate between you, which you teach your children?

The world looks at you and surpasses your understanding

The world looks at you and surpasses your understanding

 

You who resemble neither a westerner nor an Arab

You who resemble neither a westerner nor an ArabVous

Your faith in the tribes blinds you to the truth

Your faith in the tribes blinds you to the truth

 

Even if God were to send a blessing down for you to share

Even if God were to send a blessing down for you to share

 

With a friend, they will only betray your confidence

With a friend, they will only betray your confidence

 

 

Ahimana (Ô Mon Âme)

 

Dear Mother, since the time I left for Libya with patient steps

I arrived but I have been feeling aimless

I search for the money I need by any means necessary

But it refuses to accumulate

 

O my sould

 

From  our soul to your soul

From our eyes to your eyes

From your hands to our hands

 

An unfaithful woman, my friends, has one fault

She is like a deep well which is collapsing, which is collapsing

She is like a well which is collapsing, with walls but without end

Whoever is down there, his heart will be engulfed, his heart will be engulfed

 

When the Iknan[iii] are all gathered together  

Among them is Inay, I prefer the warmth of my milk to that of this boy

My father and I have differing points of view

He’s interested in cows and female camels

I’m interested in a boy from the Idnan[iv] clan

And his smooth face, without blemishes

 

 

Soixante Trois

 

’63 has gone, but will return

That time has left us memories

 

It murdered the old folk and a child just born.

It swooped down to the pastures and wiped out the cattle.

 

America can bear witness and Lebanon too

Russia supplies the arms aflame

 

My sisters were hunted down without mercy

Those who I would exchange for nothing on this earth

 

Because love is powerful and strong

It penetrates the soul, and blisters

 

 

Toumast (The People)

 

A divided people will never reach its goal

It will never cultivate an acacia tree with beautiful leaves

It will never cultivate an acacia tree with beautiful leaves

 

A divided people will loose its way

Each part of it will become an enemy in itself

Each part of it will become an enemy in itself

 

Friends!  Look after its well-being.  Out there the tenere[v] is thirsty.

Its trees are dessicated.  Women and children await its water.

Its trees are dessicated.  Women and children await its water.

 

In the time of revolt, we all rested under the shadow of its trees

And drank from its gourds, which were full of water.

And drank from its gourds, which were full of water.

 

 

Imidiwan Winakalin (Friends of my country)

 

Friends of my country, I live in exile.

I fight against my thoughts.  I’m loosing my grip on the world.

(But I never forget my goal, nor my sisters who I left behind)

In the land of my loved ones, where my memory was still vivid

This is my pain, which wipes away my smile

 

I’m in a motherless land and my soul burns with unhappiness

I consume my heart with the smoke of cigarettes, and it amplifies my pain

All I see which pleases my soul, when I look for it again, I can find it no more.

That is my pain that prevents me from smiling

But I never forget my goal, nor my sisters who I left behind

Left in the land of my dear ones where my memory is still alive

 

 

Awa Didjen (Ce qui est advenu )

 

That which has happened gives no succour to the soul

Of whomsoever lives and cares for his loved ones

Of whomsoever lives and cares for his loved ones

The sun, the wind and even more

But the worse for them is the lack of water

 

My Kel Tamashek[vi] brothers, there’s a hidden truth

The Tamashek language

 

A great truth which has long been buried in the emptiness of the desert

Over which ignorance has said its final prayer

 

 

Ikyadarh Dim (I Look at You)

 

My lips fall silent, but my heart still speaks of you

I look at you and measure up your character

I look at you and measure up your character

 

Even deep in my grave, I’m still alive

I look at you and I think of all the memories we share

I look at you and I think of all the memories we share

 

The day I went away, leaving you behind

It wasn’t for want of love, but because of too much respect

 

 

Tamatant Tilay (Death is Here)

 

Death is here, she’s counting the days

When she arrives, there will be no more remedies

Let the blood boil if it is really in your veins

At the break day, take your arms and take the hilltops

 

We kill our enemies and become like eagles

We’ll liberate all those who live in the plains

Joy will come and spread across the horizon

The youth will rediscover fulfilment, and express it with feasting

We’ll dig wells and cultivate gardens

 

 

Assouf (Longing)

 

What can I do with this eternal longing?

Which inhabits my soul and my heart in flames.

Which inhabits my soul and my heart in flames.

 

My friends, who can know

What can cool a heart that burns

 

The world sleeps and I count the stars

I count them and I stoke my burning heart

When everything lies down and sleeps

This painful longing overwhelms me

And suffuses my heart and my soul

 

 

Izarharh Tenere (I Lived in the Desert)

 

I lived in the desert and I was preparing tea

When I heard the sound of the tindé[vii], the tindé of the spirits

 

It was the tindé of the spirit world, around which the sprits paraded

It was the tindé of the spirit world, around which the sprits paraded

 

It was the tindé of the spirit world, around which they paraded their camels

I took my show camel, fettered and rested for days

 

I departed deep in thought, following the hills

I stop suddenly.  I listen.  Nothing at all

Nothing but the wind whispering through the dry grass.

 

 

 

 

 


[i] The desert or the bush, single of the word ‘Tinariwen’

[ii]  A vast arid region that spans Mali, Niger and Algeria

[iii] A clan who inhabit the desert of the Tamesna, east of Kidal

[iv] A noble warrior-like clan

[v] The desert, bush or coutry

[vi] The Touareg call themselves the Kel Tamashek, which translates as ‘The Tamashek speaking people’  

[vii] A tindé is a traditional drum made of a large wooden grain mortar and a goatskin, which is played by women.   It is the heartbeat of all traditional Touareg music.   At festivals and other big occasions, the women gather in a close group around the tindé and beat out a rhythm whilst men parade by on camels, who strut by in perfect time to the haunting groove.

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