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Mariem Hassan: the voice of Western Sahara

By Stefan Simanowitz  

Mariem Hassan performs

Mariem Hassan’s voice soared through the warm afternoon air in the Wiltshire countryside at last month’s WOMAD festival. She started with a “mawal”—a graceful song sung without accompaniment before moving on to the mesmeric desert blues for which she is famed. She sings of love, of heartache but most of all she sings about the suffering and hopes of her people in their struggle for independence in Africa’s last colony. “To be Saharawi is to be political,”she said, her eyes…

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