Thursday, July 2, 2009

The « Fourth Power » of a Rebel Diva

Some people could be surprised to learn that Mrs Malouma Mind Meidah (المعلومة بنت الميداح), the well-known singer, is also, since 2006, a member of the Mauritanian Parliament.

Elected for an opposition party, Malouma is not afraid to make her own way, in politics as in art. Thus, she does not follow the classical path of the musical traditions she inherited from her family but creates a “contemporary tradition” where the Arab and Berber local maqamat (musical modes) mix with the African rythms.

Her new blues comes from a long tradition where songs – for a celebration as for a protest – have always been a kind of “fourth power” in the Mauritanian society, at least before the coming of the modern media.

If the Arab women seem to gain some political presence in the Arab Peninsula, it must be said that they play a larger political role in Mauritania since the country achieved its independence in 1960. Today, women represent 18% of the members of the Parliament, and one third of the local elected representatives.

Recently, Malouma has had some trouble with the local authorities who seized, as she was back from Senegal were she had them printed, thousands of her CD’s, with some new songs rather critical of the regime. A sign, although she says the contrary, that her protest songs, and politically oriented art in general, has still some influence in a country like Mauritania.

Here the introduction (1'30) of a documentary film (52 min) produced by Al-Jazeera documentary and more links and information, as usual, with the more developed the post in French.

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