The Endless Journey
The Endless Journey is the title of a touring event that is a live music show, a documentary film and a photographic exhibition. This is the story of a group of musicians from Niger, West Africa, who travelled the world promoting their nomadic culture and desert blues music only to realise that whilst they were away their children were turning their back’s on their cultural heritage. So they took a desert road trip to try to reinvigorate the tradition for a new generation. German photographer and film-maker Jean Molitor accompanied them and the resulting exhibition and documentary film are a new dimension to this touring show. The musicians are Mamane Barka and Oumarou Adamou who toured the UK in 2010 and Alhousseini Anivolla and Bammo Agonla from Etran Finatawa who have spent the last 7 years performing world-wide. In this new collaboration their hypnotic musical groove evokes the breathless heat and shimmering horizon of the Sahara bringing together the electric guitar beloved of Tuareg musicians, the haunting vocals of the Wodaabe, the rippling strings of biram master Mamane Barka and the instinctive hypnotic percussion of Griot Oumarou Adamou.
Drought, poverty, globalisation and the spread of radical Islamic ideas are rapidly changing the landscape in Niger both environmentally and politically. The grasslands are barren and the way of life for Nomadic peoples across the sub Saharan region is increasingly unsustainable. Migration to the city is the only option remaining for many. It’s a dramatic contrast for people whose survival has for centuries revolved around their livestock, with their lives played out across the shifting sands. Once in the city the pressure to blend into the ‘urban’ community is a powerful force deeply eroding cultural identity within a single generation.
The four musicians at the heart of ‘The Endless Journey’ understand that losing cultural identity makes their country poor, but without a champion for diversity it’s a very bleak future indeed.
The Film 'The Rolling Music Lesson' and Photographic Exhibition
Taking positive action Etran Finatawa, Mamane Barka and Oumarou Adamou embarked on a road trip, ’The Rolling Music Lesson’, to take their music to outlying schools across Niger. Their intention was to inspire the children to value their cultural heritage by meeting musicians who have travelled and performed their traditions world wide. Internationally acclaimed photographer and film-maker Jean Molitor accompanied them and documented their musical journey and the extraordinary response they received. The subtitled documentary film gives a rare glimpse of contemporary village life in one of the poorest countries in the world. The exhibition contrasts scenes of bustling activity with serenely composed portraiture.
The Documentary Film and Exhibition on tour
The documentary film and photographic exhibition of images by Jean Molitor are available to promoters of ‘The Endless Journey’ to screen and project a month in advance of the performance. The performance itself incorporates specially mixed visuals projected behind the performers in a powerful and emotive live experience.