Bachir Sahraoui; meditative poems from Algeria

The poet and singer known as Bachir Sahraoui was born Bachir ould Ali ould Abderrahmane ould Mohamed Alazadad in 1947 in the Algerian Sahara, in the oasis of Aclibate el Frenina.  His father was born in 1890 in Tarsal and his mother in 1914.  His mother shared her love of poetry and stories with her son.  Bachir's first public performance was inspired by a chance encounter at a wedding.  Bachir, who was 11 years old at the time, was so struck by the beauty of a young girl with braided hair that he improvised a sung poem on the spot. 

In 1973 he joined the ranks of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Sagui el-Hamra and Wadi el-Dhahab, fighting against the Spanish colonial presence in the Sahara.  He was assigned to the Mauritanian city of Bir el Moghrein, where he was arrested in October of 1975.  Upon his release, a month later, he abandoned the military struggle.

At some point in the late 1970s, Bachir made his way to Algiers where he started his professional musical career, recording his songs and performing on television.  Bachir's poems are inspired, first, by the popular proverbs that transmit the wisdom of the Saharaoui people.  His songs also draw inspiration from several famous Sahraoui poets, such as the anti-colonial poet Dakhil ould Sidi Baba, and the poet Seddoum ould Njartou (to whom many of the great Mauritanian griot families, such as the Abba and Eide families, trace their ancestry).

Bachir Sahraoui's career, at least on the national stage, seems to have peaked in the 1980s. Articles about him continue to sporadically appear in the Algerian press but he no longer seems to perform much.  This cassette was released by a label based in Marseille, France, that reissued Algerian recordings.  It features six poems (qasida) written by Boukhari Said.  Bachir is accompanied by the ghasbas (reed flute) of Saad and Kaddour.

Download Bachir el Sahraoui

This is music for close listening.

Here is a clip of Bachir Sahraoui from Algerian television. 



  1. Thank you very much Mattew, very much appreciated, is the clean music of the desert that sounded in the afternoon at Radio Algérie, twenty or thirty years ago I recorded this flute and the singer, without knowing who I was, a few years ago I was able to identify another similar artist (Khelife Ahmed), but until today I never knew who he was, Bachir the sincere voice.

  2. thank u so much on a rainy cold grey day


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