El Ansar Abdelghani, king of Houari music.

The small city of Oulad Teima, also known as Houara, is on the road (N10) between the coastal city of Agadir and Taroudant.  The road follows the path of the Souss river, whose watershed sustains the region's population.  The Souss valley is the heartland of Morocco's Tachelhilt speaking Berber population.  In and around Oulad Teima, however, there is a sizeable Arabic (Darija) speaking community.  El Ansar Abdelghani is the musical flagbearer for this Darija speaking population.

Abdelghani was born in 1959 in the douar (village) of Tolba, in the commune (municipality) of Sidi Ahmed Ou Amar, 7 km east of Oulad Teima.  He dropped out of school after the 5th grade (CM2) and started working as a shepherd and farm hand.  His passion was the music of Rais el Arabi el Hamri, one of the first Houari artists to record.  Abdelghani followed el Hamri around the region, from douar to douar, watching him perform at marriages and harvest celebrations.

In 1978, Abdelghani put together his group, El Ansar, and started to perform.  By the late 1980s, he was a regional star.  He released 33 cassettes, all featuring his trademark effects-laden bouzouk playing.  Abdelghani passed away suddenly, after a short illness, on December 13, 2008, at the regional hospital in Taroudant.  The group El Ansar continues to perform and the bandleader of the current lineup continues to play Abdelghani's iconic bouzouk: I suspect he is Abdelghani's son. 

This cassette is, in my opinion, one of El Ansar's best.  It features Abdelghani on Bouzouk and vocals, accompanied only by electric guitar, trap drums, and hand percussion.  Abdelghani and the guitar player stretch out, laying down beautiful contrapuntal improvisations.  The cassette starts with this poem:

                     Please take care of those you love. Follow your path. 
                     Life ebbs and flows.  The wind will uncover that which is hidden.
                     In the name of love, heal those that you love and be patient with them. 
                     The person in love is like a lamb in front a wolf, she is terrified and needs 
                     to be protected.  
                     The sun comes and goes and when night falls the moon brightens the sky.  
                     Your heart speaks what your eyes hide and the wall between us crumbles.
                     Let the love that is in you express itself.  

El Ansar Abdelghani

Here is a grainy video of El Ansar Abdelghani performing in 1991, around the same time I think this cassette was released.  If you only have time to check out one of these videos, make it this one!! The video has some annoying voiceover commentary but the music is fanstastic!

This video features a song by Rais el Arbi el Hamri, Abdelghani's idol.

Finally, a more recent video of the reformed El Ansar.

There seems to be a healthy Houari scene in and around Oulad Teima, mostly groups featuring the bouzouk, guitar, and drumset lineup.  Poke around a bit on Youtube and check them out.

This post is dedicated to Tim at Moroccan Tape Stash and Mr. Tear who ran the Snap, Crackle and Pop blog for all of the Moroccan treasures they have shared over the years!!


  1. Not familiar with this artist before but sounds amazing so far. Thank you for sharing!


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