When Tarig Abubakar died in 1998, the world lost one of African music’s greatest ambassadors. Having arrived in Canada from Sudan as a refugee 10 years earlier, Tarig made it his mission to bridge cultures with music. His band, the Afronubians, was a veritable United Nations ensemble, with musicians from East, Central and West Africa working alongside Canadian and even Russian-born players. Together, they forged a vibrant, rhythmic sound that attracted a loyal following on the Toronto club circuit. But Tarig was never content with just local exposure. He had visions of spreading African music far and wide. Between 1995 and 1997, he took his Afronubians on three cross-Canada tours, playing remote places like Ness Creek, Canmore, Kamloops, Prince Rupert and Whitehorse—sometimes in the coldest, darkest days of winter. And Tarig, a round-faced, genial man with an infectious laugh, won converts at every stop.
The story of Tarig’s arrival in Canada, a genuine tale of a stranger landing in a strange land, made headlines and even became a national news item on CTV’s W5. Arriving at Montreal’s Mirabel airport with only the clothes