Niger Coup Strands Mdou Moctar In US, Band Launches GoFundMe With $100K Raised

Kyle Gustafson / The Washington Post / Getty Images
Mdou Moctar at the Black Cat in Washington. Photo by Kyle Gustafson / The Washington Post / Getty Images – Mdou Moctar

Mdou Moctar was supposed to return to their home country of Niger after wrapping a North American tour at New York’s SummerStage in Central Park July 29 – but instead the rock band is stranded in the U.S. after a military coup d’état resulted in borders being closed. A GoFundMe to help the band members with housing, food and other necessities has raised more than $100,000, including a $10,000 donation from Jack White III.

As the description in the band’s GoFundMe explains, “On July 26, the band Mdou Moctar ‘s home country of Niger was thrown into chaos and uncertainty when a right-wing group of militants violently overthrew the democratically elected president of the nation. At the time of this coup, Mahamadou Souleymane, Ahmoudou Madassane, and Souleymane Ibrahim, the three Nigerien members of Mdou Moctar, were on tour in North America. As a result of the dangerous political climate, the three are unable to return to their homes and families. Borders in and out of the country have been closed, along with financial institutions, and foreign nationals have left the country on emergency flights, in fear of an imminent civil war.

“At present, the band is stuck in the United States indefinitely. The costs associated with finding emergency housing and living expenses for the band while they are stuck here in the US are considerable as well as undefined, as there is no timeframe for when peace may return to the region. As the band’s touring activity regularly supports their families at home in Niger, this extended stay in the US will, unfortunately, divert that income away from their dependents.

“This GoFundMe campaign is being set up to help provide them with what they will need to be able to safely spend time in the States while they wait and see when they will be able to return home to Niger to reunite with their loved ones. Any donations will be used directly to secure housing, food, healthcare, travel, and any other necessities in America that will be needed while they navigate this unexpected and unprecedented time.”

On Sunday news broke that Niger had “closed its airspace … until further notice, citing the threat of military intervention from the West African regional bloc after coup leaders rejected a deadline to reinstate the country’s ousted president,” Reuters reported.

The band’s GoFundMe was launched by manager Daniel Oestreich of Another Management Company with an initial goal of $25,000. As of Sunday evening $102,731 had been raised with over 2,000 donations. The top donations include White’s 10K and $5,000 from Matador Records.

Oestreich posted an update on Aug. 3 saying, “We are completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. All funds received over our initial goal will be used for the band’s extended families that have been affected by the upheaval.”

Mdou Moctar’s North American tour started July 19 at Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, followed by stops at Pittsburgh’s Thunderbird Café & Music Hall; Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Blind Pig and Madison, Wisconsin’s High Noon Saloon. The band also made appearances at Pitchfork Music Fest and Newport Folk Fest

A review of the band’s set at Newport earned praise from Rolling Stone: “Few words were needed during the Friday afternoon performance from Mdou Moctar, who delivered the highest-energy rock set of the weekend. The Tuareg guitarist led his trio through a blistering performance that had the typically sedate Quad Stage crowd standing, stomping, and dancing their way through the performance.”

Mdou Moctar was on the cover of Pollstar in 2021. Box office reports submitted to Pollstar for the band include a Sept. 6, 2022, show at Thalia Hall in Chicago that sold 705 tickets and grossed $19,238.