She was born in 1976 in the Sahrawi refugee camps, where her mother had settled in late 1975, fleeing from the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. Her father remained in El Aaiun where he later died. Due to the Western Sahara War, Aziza never met him.
At the age of 11, she received scholarships to study in Cuba, as many Sahrawi students at the time. She wanted to study music, but was rejected. She left school and returned to the refugee camps in 1995, pursuing her musical career. Since 2000 she has lived in Spain, first in León and later in Barcelona. She is married and she has a daughter.
You can read about Aziza’s music in this post Bringing the songs of Western Sahara to the world
“My strongest influence will always be the haul: the traditional sound of the Western Sahara,”
“I’ve always focused my lyrics on the history and struggle of my people,” Brahim says. “Music is very important in the Sahrawi culture. A vital part of our cultural legacy is oral, not written. Music is a base for much of our poetry and many of our stories. It can be used as a means of resistance, but also a way of coming together. At every party – weddings, celebrations and religious events
I have to admit that prior to listening to and reading about the music of Aziza, I didn’t know about the plight of the Sahrawi people. From the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants…
Sahrawi refugees are among the longest warehoused refugee groups in the world. In a situation lasting over 30 years, more than 90,000 refugees wait in four remote refugee camps — El Aaiun, Awserd, Smara, and Dakhla — in the desolate Sahara desert in southwest Algeria.
The international community has all but forgotten these men, women, and children who fled their homes in the mid-’70s because of fighting between the Moroccan military and the Polisario Front, a rebel group who seeks independence for the Western Sahara. The refugees remain trapped to this day in refugee camps in a remote part of the Sahara often referred to as “The Devil’s Garden.” Continue Reading
Take a moment and visit the above website and watch the slide show about the plight of the Sahrawi. Here’s what Aziza says about making music for her people:
“It’s an old conversation,” Brahim says. “Making art in the service of a cause … For myself, I am just glad to be in a position where I can make people aware of the situation of the Sahrawi people. My songs talk about those issues because I can’t do anything else. When I express the concerns of my people through my music, I am also expressing my own concerns.’
“Personal experience is very important in my work, but I am also part of a wider society. I belong to an occupied country – my people have been exiled and in refugee camps for nearly 40 years, my homeland is filled with landmines and families have been separated. The international community may be able to sit back and watch this happen but I can’t do the same. I want to talk about these things, but it is important to me to not only write and sing about these issues. I also try to include other parts of life that anyone in the world can identify with and relate to.”
I enjoyed listening to the music of Aziza and learning about the plight of the Sahrawi. I listened this morning.to Soutak, which is a very good album and I bet that would enjoy it even MORE if I knew what the lyrics meant! Right now I am listening to her album Mabruk which is also very good! So Check Out her music!! (links below video)
Here is the song “Julud” from Soutak