Sangtekst: Kirari af Zara Moussa
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Sangtekst: Ma rage af Zara Moussa
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Sangtekst: Femme Objet af Zara Moussa
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Interview med Zara Moussa

Zara Moussa

Interview med Zara Moussa (Engelsk version)

af Melissa Moser


The beginning:

What made you choose the music path? And more specifically the hip-hop music?

I was looking for a way of express my self.

In 2002, the French Embassy organized a contest, which became to me a challenge. Indeed, people around me teased me about it. So I simply answered: “Yes, I am going to do it and I’m even gonna win it.”

Nobody believed I ‘d be able to do it. I won.

This success has been an eye-opener, the beginning for me as an artist. The hip-hop became my way of expression.

This success makes my integration to the hip-hop world smoother. It helps me to change the way people perceived me: they started to take me seriously. So did my family (with the exception of my mother).

So, as I decided what I wanted to do, I started to look more into the hip-hop culture (it was still quite new to me!). To see what others had been doing and find out what I wanted to do.

“ Hip Hop became to me a social protest weapon”


What was the biggest challenge that you encountered in the process of becoming a musician?

One of my big challenges has been to find an appropriate way to talk about sensible subjects that are important to me.

I also had difficulties to integrate into the hip-hop community since it is a man’s world!

And finally, I encounter some financial issues. Here, music is not seen as a good investment. Artists have to produce themselves


Did you have some support? Mentor?

No. I did not have a mentor so to speak. My husband plays an important role: he was my biggest support. For example, he writes some of my songs and helps me to record them (he has his own studio – La source).

I do not really want to have any other artist as a role model as I do not want to become some kind of copy. I have my own personality and my own ideas to grow.


Work Conditions: 

On a daily basis, how do you work?

Many hip hoppers lose motivation when facing the workload. Here, an artist is producing himself, is responsible for his own promotion, distribution and concert logistic. 

I saw an artist selling tickets before going on stage to perform! 

It could also result from some of our social concepts. Families are not usually supportive as getting into the music business is rarely a way to feed your family.

So pressure to get a “real” job is strong

For me Nigerian music does not evolve much but has been repeating itself, inspired by tradition and creating a Nigerian musical identity.

Some artists, of course, differ – I especially think about Yacoba Moumouni, whose music has a more modern touch.

I do believe we have very talented musicians and some rare and unique instrument but we don’t have any public, official will to develop and invest in any form of art.

Therefore there is no structure –like school - that can help an artist to grow in Niger - at least not at the moment.


Could you describe the hip-hop scene in Niger, in general?

The hip-hop scene in Niger is mainly masculine. Hip-hop is the main music genre.

Historically it has been booming over the 90’s and it is now flatting down a little.

This could be directly linked to our difficult work conditions.


How are the work conditions in Niger (studio facilities, rehearsal rooms etc.)?

Yes, we do have studios but most of them are a one-room-at-home kind of studio with basic material (computer, mixing table and a microphone).

Equipment and skilled people to operate it are the hardest to find. Thus it is hardly possible for us to be competitive on an international level. Or even on a regional level – some of our neighbors, like Mali, have the benefice of bigger support.

Our music is more destined to a local consumption.

Personally I had access to a proper studio – through my husband - which makes a huge difference.


In what type of venues do you perform the most often? How often do you perform? Once a month? Several times?

I don’t do many concerts.

First because there is not many opportunity like festival or so to perform in Niamey. We used to have concert every second week or so, on weekends but well that is like hip hop production – it has slow down.

Usually concerts are organized for a “special” occasion like for our National Day Celebration. When such events are organized, I try to get myself invited. Being invited does not mean you are going to be paid – often you won’t - but expenses will be taken care of.


“It is rarely music for music but more a concert to support an event.”

However we do have a concert hall. The quality it can offer is the issue. Often sound quality is bad and concerts have to run in the dark – there is no light!


The most prestigious venue is reserved for others events (conference, business fair…) and are under the presidents, his wife and ministers direct authority.


We also have the CCFN (French Nigerian Cultural center) that offers good performance condition but it can host only 500 persons.


Languages and culture:

Why doyou use different languages to express yourself (French, Djerma and Haoussa). What does that give to the hip hop?

In Niger, there are many dialects. The Haoussa and the Djerma are the most spoken. French is usually learned in school – that is where I learned it.

I wanted to be sure that everyone, and especially the women I try to speak up for, is able to understand my lyrics.

Using different languages help to break the social barrier. It is a necessity. And in the future I can see myself rapping in English or even German…. Why not?


You productions are influenced by traditional African music. How would you describe the mixture of Western hip hop and traditional African music? How do you see the difference between Western – let’s say US hip hop – and African?

I am not sure about mix. My music is maybe a mix between typically Nigerian music and hip hop to your hears  but I would say it is just typical “me”!

I definitely believe that mix is a positive thing – more complex but also more complete. It has divers level of implication: it can bring artists and people, artist and artist or even people and people together.

In Niger words are very important – we are the type of people that can talk with vivacity and strength. Indeed, sometimes people are nicely chatting but it looks like they are arguing to someone who does not understand the languages.

We do believe some words are to be shouted! That affects our music for sure.


Your impressions & opinions:

How do you feel about the way people portrait you, as a hip hop pioneer in Africa, a role model for women?

I see it as a huge responsibility. It is very flattering to know that some people are looking up to you but in a way it is also quite heavy. Since people “watch” you, you need to be more aware about how you act and think twice about your choices.

It is also a great source of motivation. Women come to me – teens or mothers – to tell me that it is really brave what I am doing and that I am honoring the women condition.

As long as there are women, who need to be speaking up for, I will continue to do so.


How do you feel about the past year event in Niger – the political instability? Does it affect the way you work or your motivation?

At the moment Niger is a democratic country. The last election has been very visible. And I think they have a will to make things change and evolve in a good way.

It is still quite a new government so we have to wait to see.

This politic situation does influence our work in the way that it influences our working conditions. It is also quite difficult to change things because by the time you reach the right person – the one that can do something on a larger scale – the government shift and all promises are gone with it.

For example, in 2007, we created a collective  “Jungle culture” to denounce the bad cash flow that the minister of culture was doing.

At that time, authorities mainly used the fact that many artists are illiterate – to take advantage and keep money away from those who needed it!

This rebellious committee of ours got the opportunity to meet the President of Niger and present to him our request.

He was concerned about the problem and seeks advice. He hired one of us to be secretary general of the Culture. Things were about to change.

And then the government crashed. 


What’s next? 

How do you see your future carrier wise? Are you working on some specific project?

I would like to create my own business - a production/marketing agency for artists.

It will offer service, support to all artists (musician but also actors) to ensure they get a chance to speak up the way they want to!

I would like to make it a safe place for them to come, practice, record, work on promotion strategy, distribution … A place where equipment works and people are skilled, so they can advice you.

Of course, I will welcome everyone but focus more on women.

I am not sure yet on how I am going to do that. My husband will help and I also hope I can use my network for advice or more.

Network is definitely something I am willing to work on. I am looking forward to be at WOMEX – I am sure I will meet people with similar story and challenges.

Another project would be to organize an art festival that will be showcasing women.   







Zara Moussa - Femme ObjectZara Moussa - Ma rageZara Moussa - Ma rage - instrumentalZara Moussa - KirariZara Moussa - Kirari - instrumental
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