“Tuareg !”As soon as the word is said comes to the mind pictures of a boundless desert, of dunes high as buildings, constantly walked by long caravans of camels heavily loaded, and guided by blue men very straights, escaped from a book of Pierre Benoît or stories of Henri Lhote. What now of those Epinal pictures, of those catalogues photos, of those dreams of “civilized” ?
First a number : around 1 300 000 human beings, with a commune language, the Tamasheq, sharing a territory as big as few Great Britains or Germanies. They come from the ancient times, descendants of the neolithic pastors, great camel specialists (which are dromadaires in fact), experts in hostiles milieu, it’s been thousands of years that they walk on those wild lands. That’s why they call themselves : Imouhar, from a verb meaning “he’s free”.
We’ll understand why even in a state of utter destitution, driving his 4x4 or alone in the middle of a big European city, the Targui stays before anything else, a free man. Even If History didn’t spoil them. The Arab influence and the breakthrough of Islam, the French colonization with its caravan of battles and heavy administrations, the mindless division of the land through artificial borders, the end of caravans, and more recently, an important dryness changed for ever immemorial balances. At the end, a disaster : the end of pastoralism, settled way of life, poverty, acculturation, in short, the classic problems found following such changes but accentuated by the milieu’s fragility.
But those proud and brave people, doesn’t accept to disappear without fighting. Everybody remembers those Nigerian rebels, leaded by Mano Dayak, who fought years and years for the recognition of the tuareg identity ; piloting their 4x4 as experts, stealing the military posts. As their elders threw rezzous, they obtained, in spite of the early disappearing of their leader, the setting up of very important reforms. Their feats are in fact still celebrated by the musicians Ichoumar..
Today the autonomy claims aren’t disappeared, on the contrary. In spite of the intense sedentary process those last years, many nomads still walk through those wild lands. Few rain drops and the desert is green . Few grass and those camel passionates are able to leave house, office or building for those far fields. As for the Tindé, the fest of seduction and dance, it stays one of the favorite occasion of distraction and meeting for many tuaregs, young and old. The big annual fest of “Sebiba” is a perfect example. The admiration that we have for this people, so friendly, the interest that we have for its history pluri-millenary, the strangeness of its fauna and flora, so discrete but so originals, are as many reasons for the young generations to feel again the immense capital, so fragile and beautiful, with which they are in charge, a world so fantastic to discover and so vital to preserve.
▲Top of Page