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Mdou Moctar’s ‘Imouhar’ Is a Riff-Heavy Plea to Preserve a Dying Language

Mdou Moctar have dropped a scorching new plea, “Imouhar,” off the Nigerien band’s upcoming album, Funeral for Justice, out May 3 via Matador. 

“Imouhar” begins with a shaggy, lo-fi groove but quickly launches into the kind of propulsive, head-spinning desert blues Mdou Moctar’s best known for, replete — of course — with plenty of insane guitar pyrotechnics. In the lyrics, Moctar encourages the Tuareg people to not let their Tamasheq language become obsolete.

“People here are just using French,” the frontman said in a statement. “They’re starting to forget their own language. We feel like in a hundred years, no one will speak good Tamasheq, and that’s so scary for us.”

“Imouhar” also arrives with a music video directed by Lauren Greenhall. The clip captures a performance of the song but is comprised largely of close-ups that focus on the faces of the band members as they play, as well as their impressive technique. 

Mdou Moctar announced Funeral for Justice last month, sharing its title track as well. The album follows the band’s celebrated 2021 album, Afrique Victime, and was recorded after the band finished two years of heavy touring behind that LP. 


In a statement, Moctar spoke about the politically-charged nature of Funeral for Justice, which he described as a “really different” album for him. “Now the problems of terrorist violence are more serious in Africa,” he said. “When the US and Europe came here, they said they’re going to help us, but what we see is really different. They never help us to find a solution.”

The Mdou Moctar band have a busy summer ahead as they hit the road in support of Funeral for Justice. Following sets at Coachella next month, their tour will officially kick off June 5 in Atlantic City, with dates in North America and Europe scheduled through early September.

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