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Golden Patrimony of Gnawa

(Moroccan Gnawa Music)

The Gnawa (or Gnaoua) people originated in the ancient Empire of Ouagadougou (present-day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Burkino Faso and Mali).  They now inhabit Morocco, Algeria and elsewhere in North Africa.  Long ago the Gnawa developed a complex tradition of sacred music encompassing trance, spirit possession, dance, prayer and healing.  They maintain the tradition after conversion to Islam and continue to this day.

Maalem (master musician) Mohammed Qaqa was attracted to Gnawa music since childhood.  He took a master’s degree in history at El Jadida University, then began the serious pursuit of music.  He apprenticed himself to master musicians, performed at hundreds of traditional all-night rites and founded the group Gnawa Bambara, which has appeared at many festivals and events including the renowned Festival Gnaoua et Musiques du Monde in Essouira.