This is a CD of hunting-related music made by musicians in an area of western Niger called Dallol Mawri. It was released this year (2005) by Radio France’s label Ocora.
Four musicians (two masters and their apprentices) are recorded singing and accompanying themselves on the gurumi, a lute-like instrument containing three strings (high, medium, and low pitches). In all 15 songs, the lead musician begins a phrase and the apprentice joins in to finish it. They are banging away on their gurumi throughout.
The musicians and their songs play an important role in the success of their village’s hunting. There are songs that praise particularly strong and agile hunters, suck up to the leader of the hunt (and his assistant), and remind hunters that the whole village is counting on them. Interestingly, magic plays as important a role in hunting as weapons, so there are a lot of songs about magical animals and genies. Most songs begin with praise to Allah.
On the chance that you don’t know Hausa (the language of this region), parts of the lyrics are included in the excellent insert booklet. Some of my favorite lyrics:
‘You’re the only one who can saddle a lion and ride it without a problem.’
‘You who kill wild animals like tame ones?
‘Whoever knows the true worth of a musician must know us/For we’ve performed in Senegal?
‘Shooting from far away leads to uncertainty?
‘You know I don’t eat lizard/That’s women’s food?
‘In this world you’re only loved if you’ve got something?