Mdou Moctar has set up a GoFundMe after the military coup d’état in his home country Niger has left him and his Nigerien bandmates stranded in the US, where they have recently been touring.
Moctar is one of the world’s most exciting players. He and rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane have an incredible chemistry. Moctar has developed a psychedelic electric guitar that’s rooted in Tuareg and desert blues styles, influenced by classic rock players such as Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen, but is inextricably connected to a sense of place, informed by the desert and by everyday life there.
He and his band was in Canada playing at Montreal’s Théâtre Fairmount on 26 July when the the coup took place, and a junta operating under presidential guard commander general Abdourahamane Tchiani detained the president Mohamed Bazoum and took control of the country.
Foreign nationals have been evacuated as unrest gripped the country. Moctar concluded his tour with a set at Central Park SummerStage on 29 July, thereafter he was scheduled to fly home. But the borders have been closed. Moctar, Ahmoudou, and drummer Souleymane Ibrahim are unable to return home.
Bassist Michael “Mikey” Coltun – who also produces the band, and has acted as van driver and tour manager – is from New York.
In an Instagram post, the band said they would have to “remain abroad indefinitely” until the security situation at home improves.
“Last week while we were on tour our home of Niger was plunged into chaos when a Coup took place,” read the statement. “As a result, we are unable to return home to our loved ones and must remain abroad indefinitely. We have launched this GoFundMe to help offset the living costs associated with that.
“We are so appreciative of our fans and community and their unending support and are so appreciative of whatever you are able to do to help us in this unprecedented and scary time. Thank you so much.”
Moctar had only just released a pair of EPs in 2022 bearing the title of his homeland, and featuring some of his most outré guitar improvisations yet. When Moctar spoke to MusicRadar in 2021, he detailed some of the political tensions that he has written about in song, and of the threat from terrorism.
“Currently, I’m really feeling the suffering of Africa, especially since Gaddafi was killed,” he said. “Terrorism has been on the rise in various countries. You know, the terrorists of Boko Haram hit us every day. And there's crimes in various countries in the whole of the Sahel and Africa.
“Of course, each country has more specific problems – there’s some diversity. And in Niger, I would say it’s mostly the terrorists in the desert and the impact of the installation of French and US military bases in the country. Other Arab countries have been impacted. For instance, recently, the African leader Idriss Déby was murdered. He was a leader from Chad. He was fighting terrorists and especially Boko Haram. And sadly, he’s no more.”
If you can help, you can find Mdou Moctar’s GoFundMe here. The band has raised $91,921 of its $100,000 target.