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Niger singer Hamsou Garba dies at 64

Hamsou Garba

One of Niger’s most famous musicians, Hamsou Garba, has died in a hospital in the capital Niamey. She was 64 and had been ill for some time.

Born in the southern city of Maradi, Garba had a music career spanning more than three decades.

She led a band of women and men, singing mainly in the Hausa language occasionally mixed with French. Her songs focused on love, religion and social issues as well as political activism and patriotism.

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Garba was well respected by peers who nicknamed her “the music box” due to her talent and ability to sing impromptu.

Her passing has been called a “national loss” by the national musician’s union, while performer Amadou Yacouba said people like her were “rare” in the industry.

The singer was briefly jailed in 2016, for criticising the government during a performance and for calling then-detained opposition leader Hama Amadou “Niger’s Mandela”.

Garba also spoke about social issues as an occasional talk-show host on her FM radio station Turaki.

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Her death comes barely two weeks after the death of her husband, and a month since her oldest daughter died.

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