RAIN Hosts “Niger: A Country United in the Face of Turmoil” in Washington D.C.

Omara Moctar and Bess Palmisciano
Omara Moctar and Bess Palmisciano

On September 4th, RAIN, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Niger, hosted Niger: A Country United in the Face of Turmoil, a presentation and informal discussion focusing on Niger and its place in the changing landscape of drought and turmoil in West Africa. Held at the Elliott School of International Affairs of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the reception featured Tuareg musician Omara Moctar (Bombino) and Bess Palmisciano, Executive Director of RAIN. Niger Embassy representative Boubacar Rilla was also present.

Niger is feeling the effects of the downfall of Quaddafi, the Mali civil war and the radicalization of northern Nigeria. Nigeriens are united in their hopes for their country and their children, but face many obstacles to stability and food security. Omara and Bess shared their experiences and their hopes for Niger, and engaged in a lively discussion with attendees.

Bombino and his group at the Kennedy Center
Bombino and his group at the Kennedy Center Stage

The reception followed a rousing free concert by Bombino and his group at the Kennedy Center Millennium, where Hendrix inspired hypnotic acoustic breezes and Saharan sonic sandstorms brought the audience out of their seats to dance along and cheer.

Omara is a Tuareg musician of the Ifoghas tribe from the Niger nomadic encampment of Tidine. In 2006, he traveled to California with the band Tidawt and recorded a desert blues version of Hey Negrita with Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. In 2009, he was featured in filmmaker Ron Wyman’s documentary about the Tuareg, AGADEZ: the Music and the Rebellion. His most recent album, AGADEZ, has gained worldwide acclaim. Since 1990, Omara has experienced exile from Niger several times, and is a proponent of peace in the region through his music.