Portraits of Saharawi Music is a project by Violeta Ruano, Sandblast's programme manager. It is the result of six months of ethnographic fieldwork in Saharawi refugee camps, in south-west Algeria, during 2013 and 2014. The collection includes a variety of music recordings with the aim of showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Saharawi community.
The recordings were made over different sessions. These were organised in collaboration with the Saharawi Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for promoting preservation projects in the camps to fight against the disappearance of their culture. Ruano travelled to the five different camps (wilayas) with a translator and met musicians in their homes or the local cultural centres. There was not any particular stylistic focus or constraint; musicians were asked to choose the songs they felt were most representative of traditional and modern
Saharawi culture. As a consequence, this unique collection is a collaborative and eclectic project that portrays the musical diversity of Saharawi culture whilst documenting the history of their struggle for independence. All the songs are sung in the local Arabic dialect, Hassaniya.
You can explore the full collection on the British Library website