Friday, March 11, 2016

Mauritanian Musician Hamadi Ould Nana And The Mauritanian Guetna (Harvest Season)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on the esteemed Mauritanian musician Hamadi Ould Nana.

Part I showcases a video of Hamadi Ould Nana. Part I also provides information about the Mauritanian music and the guetna (harvest season) in Mauritania. The word "guetna" happened to be included in the summary to that showcased video.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II showcases another video of Hamadi Ould Nana and provides information about the word "mahboula" that happened to be included in the title of that showcased video.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Hamadi Ould Nana for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

The music of Mauritania, Part One. by Matthew Lavoie, Posted January 23rd, 2008
"The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is where West Africa and the Maghreb meet- a huge, sparsely populated, country-stretching between Morocco and Senegal, Mali and the Atlantic ocean. The country’s name comes from its dominant ethnic group, the Moors (Maures in French), and it is their nomadic traditions and culture that give Mauritania its unique character. The Moors, or Beydane (as they call themselves), are very proud of their music. One of the country’s great music aficionados used to tell me, “music is the only thing we have ever taken the time to develop”

Nouakchott, the capital city, is home to the majority of the country’s most talented musicians. Moorish music can be roughly divided into ‘folk’ music and ‘classical’ music; the first category consists of lullabies, work songs, game songs, courting songs, shepherd songs, and religious praise ‘songs’, and the second the music of the Iggawen, or griots. Mauritania has no music industry; there are no nightclubs or record labels, there are no publications devoted to music, Moorish musicians rarely give public ‘concerts’, and the first professional studio in the country opened in 2003. The iggawen, much as they did a century ago, perform primarily at weddings and private recitals. And although (like Wolof, Manding, Pulaar, and Soninke griots) they often sing praise songs, they are above all appreciated for the aesthetic refinement of their poetic and musical skills.

One of the easiest points of entry is Jakwar, a style of music that was created in 1976 by Jheich ould Abba, a blind musician from Atar, in Northern Mauritania. Named after the fast French fighter jets that often flew over northern Mauritania during the Saharan war, Jakwar is dance music. Jheich amplified his tidinit (the traditional lute) and brought the rhythmic drive of folk music to classical Moorish melodies. This next track (like virtually all recordings available in Mauritania) is a cassette-dub of a private recording that was sponsored by one of Jheich’s patrons. The quality leaves much to be desired but his music comes through. Stick with it.

Today, Jheich’s musical legacy is kept alive by his son Idoumou ould Jheich ould Abba. He is the only one of his Jheich’s five sons to have learned the tidinit, and is today one of Nouakchott’s most solicited musicians.

It is very difficult to capture the power of Jakwar on tape. This music requires the active participation of the public. At a typical wedding, as soon as Idoumou starts to play, the women in the crowd start clapping interlocking cross-rhythms, and the louder they clap, the harder Idoumou plays. As the groove picks up steam the largely female crowd-which is arranged in an oval around an open dance space, with Idoumou at one end of the oval-starts to sway, and then rock, hard. One at a time individual dancers will jump into the oval, cover their faces with their veils, and undulate their shoulders to the beat...

The next big change in Mauritanian music came when iggawen started playing Jakwar on the electric guitar. Hammadi ould Nana was the first to take the leap. Inspired by Jakwar’s rhythmic drive, Hammadi realized that the sonic qualities of the electric guitar (sustain, controlled distortion) made it the ideal instrument for Jakwar music."...
That post includes sound files of featured musicians/singers including Hammadi ould Nana.

SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Hamadi Ould Nana.flv

FRANCEDOCS, Uploaded on Oct 13, 2011

Le célèbre chanteur de Tidjikja, Hamadi Ould Nana nous offre un moment priviligié chez lui pendant la guetna.
Google translate from French to English -The famous singer [from] Tidjikja, Hamadi Ould Nana offers us a privileged moment with him during guetna.
The word "singer" here may mean "musician". Hamadi Ould Nana doesn't sing in this video or in the video showcased in Part II. Please add links to other videos or sound files of Hamadi Ould Nana that you are aware of. Thanks!

I didn't know what the word "guetna" meant. The information that I found about that word is included in the following section of this post.

From The Guetna - Mauritania
By Francesca Long Francesca Long

Discover The Guetna

The date harvest season runs from the second half of June to the end of August, during the hot summer days. It is called the Guetna season. The population abandon the towns to go to the oasis. There, the owners of date palms sell branches which are literally collapsing under the weight of the dates, and buyers can keep the dates until the end of the season. During the Guetna season, a holiday atmosphere reigns over the palm groves. Spit-roast lamb barbecues are organized, tea flows like water and dates are picked and eaten in their thousands. To preserve the fruit, it has to be left to dry in tikits - local huts made with palm branches or camel grass. Mauritanians eat dates all year long, particularly before meals."

Mauritania’s Date Palms, Cultural Heritage and Means of Survival By Mohamed Abderrahmane
"NOUAKCHOTT, Aug 21 2012 (IPS) - “The palm tree is a means of survival,” said Tahya Mint Mohamed, a 44-year-old Mauritanian farmer and mother of three children. “We eat its dates; we make mats, beds and chairs from palms; the leaves are also used to make baskets and to feed our livestock.”

Mint Mohamed is the regional president of the associations for participatory management of oases in the Two Hodhs region of southwestern Mauritania (hodh means “basin” in Arabic) – an unusual position for a woman to hold in a traditionally male-dominated activity.

She was delighted to take IPS on a tour of her palm plantation, which is alive with activity during the date harvesting period between June and August...

Mauritania has over 10,000 productive hectares of date palms, taking into account mature, productive palms as well as young trees that have not yet begun to bear fruit, and male palms – essential for pollination – according to Mohamed Ould Ahmed Banane, who oversees monitoring and evaluation for the Oases Sustainable Development Programme (PDDO).

Banane said nearly 20,000 people across the country depend on dates for their livelihood in five oasis regions: Adrar in the north, Tagant in the Centre, and Assaba and the two Hodhs in the southeast.

He estimates Mauritania’s annual production of dates at 60,000 tonnes, to which is added a small amount of imports – 1,000 tonnes from Algeria and 500 tonnes from Tunisia. Around 60 percent of dates are eaten between June and August, during the Guetna (the Arabic name for the season when dates are harvested)*. The rest is dried for consumption throughout the year.”...…
Italics added by me to highlight that sentence.

From Mauritania Dates
Updated October 28, 2002·12:00 AM ET, Published August 27, 2001·12:00 AM ET
“Ivan Watson reports many people in the Sahara desert country of Mauritania have been on vacation for much of the past month. They're celebrating "Guetna," the annual harvest of the dates.”

This concludes Part I of this series.

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