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HomeFeaturedSongs of Freedom and Exile screens on Monday, 24 June 2013 at 22:30 GMT on Witness, Al Jazeera’s flagship documentary strand

Songs of Freedom and Exile screens on Monday, 24 June 2013 at 22:30 GMT on Witness, Al Jazeera’s flagship documentary strand

Songs of Freedom and Exile screens on Monday, 24 June 2013 at 22:30 GMT on Witness, Al Jazeera’s flagship documentary strand

The 25-minute documentary follows Fatimata Oumar, Tartit’s lead singer, as she and her internationally-acclaimed Tuareg band rehearse their songs in a refugee camp and reflect on why they had to flee Mali.

Along with 100,000 other Tuareg refugees, Fatimata was forced into exile in Burkina Faso when the Salafist militant group Ansar Dine seized control of Northern Mali in March 2012. Now Fatimata’s home is a camp on the outskirts of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and her work and talent has become her means of resistance.

Fadimata Oumar far right with Tuareg Refugees in Saag Nyogo refugee camp Burkina Faso

Fadimata Oumar far right with Tuareg Refugees in Saag Nyogo refugee camp Burkina Faso

Filmed in late 2012 and early 2013, Songs of Freedom and Exile follows Fatimata as she and the band rehearse their repertoire: the lyrics of the songs they perform at a desert concert in Morocco reflect on the theme of Tuareg identity and self-determination.

Newly arrived Tuareg refugees waiting to be processed at the Saag Nyogo camp

Newly arrived Tuareg refugees waiting to be processed at the Saag Nyogo camp

When not on stage, Fatimata carries out administrative duties as spokeswoman for the women and children of the refugee camps, thousands of whom keep arriving every week. When the French invade Mali in February 2013, the initial hope that the situation will be resolved and the Tuareg can return home fades slowly. Fatimata, her band and the other refugees can only sit and wait. “We are nomads” she says. “Being nomad, being Tuareg is all about freedom.”

For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/.

Kevin Kriedemann

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