January 4, 2018
"Super Onze are the real roots of desert blues – Mali’s equivalent of Congotronics. This is how it all sounded before the electric guitar came into the equation: Super Onze play amplified ngonis with virtuoso and hypnotic melodies, their raw, impassioned bluesy singing hangs over heavy takamba beats on calabash percussion. After 40 years of playing at weddings and child naming ceremonies around the desert, this band rocks – not to be silenced. The real soul of Mali’s northern desert." Lucy Durán, School of Oriental and African studies, BBC Radio 3.
There is this grand unknown musical phenomenon in West Africa. It's called Takamba. It's a musical style played by Tamasheq and Songhai. The word takamba means "your hand". It's an originally seated dance, very eloquent with the arms as the dancer obviously only uses the upper part of his body. The dance is used for courting, or just dancing, on weddings, circumcision feasts or just any party.
Super Onze of the city of Gao is Mali’s most renowned and refined Takamba band. They exist since 40 years and the members come from griot families. This means that they are musicians since generations and they live of playing at weddings, birth- and harvest celebrations. Despite the fact that they didn’t release one official cassette or CD, they are known in the whole of Mali, being of great inspiration to Mali’s major and worldwide known artists. And that is not the only reason they are a regular at the famous Festival in the Desert were they used to warm up the crowd for the late Ali Farka Toure. Their music sounds quite like Touareg music but it has got somewhat more groove and lyrics and they belong to the Songhay, one of Mali’s 5 tribes.
“Both the city of Gao and the takamba style itself sit neatly and squarely on the frontier between two cultural spheres: the ‘white’ Arab / Berber culture of North Africa and the black African culture of the Sahel and beyond.”