Worldly Wednesday, “Imidiwan Matanam,” Tinariwen



I have a vision of the northern Sahara at dusk.  There are bare scrubby trees, and sentient-looking rocks carved by wind and sand.  It looks like a place called Tassili N’Ajjer Plateau, in Algeria.  This is where the Tuareg group Tinariwen recorded their 2011 album “Tassili,” from which this song comes.  The album was recorded outside in the desert.  I have a lot of wanderlust by nature, but this song – and the vision this song gave a tune to – makes me all but grab my passport and run out my front door.

Tassili mountains, Algeria

Tassili N’Ajjer Plateau, Algeria

Imidiwan ma tennam dagh awa dagh enha semmen?
Tenere den tas-tennam enta dagh wam toyyam teglam
Aqqalanagh aljihalat tamattem dagh illa assahat
Tenere den tossamat lat medden eha sahat
Aksan kallan s tandallat taqqal enta tisharat
Aqqalanagh aljihalat tamattem dagh assahat

What have you got to say, my friends, about this painful time we’re living through?
You’ve left this desert where you say you were born, you’ve gone and abandoned it
We live in ignorance and it holds all the power
The desert is jealous and its men are strong
While it’s drying up, green lands exist elsewhere
We live in ignorance and it holds all the power


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