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The Tuareg (also Twareg or Touareg, Amazigh: Imuhagh/Itargiyen, besides regional ethnym) are a Berber nomadic pastoralist people. They are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. They call themselves variously Kel Tamasheq or Kel Tamajaq ("Speakers of Tamasheq"), Imuhagh, Imazaghan or Imashaghen ("the Free people"), or Kel Tagelmust, i.e., "People of the Veil". The name Tuareg was applied to them by early explorers and historians (since Leo Africanus).

The origin and meaning of the name Twareg has long been debated with various etymologies advanced, although it would appear that Twārəg is derived from the "broken plural" of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa" (the Tuareg name of the Libyanmarker region commonly known as Fezzanmarker. Targa in Berber means "(drainage) channel", see Alojali et al. 2003: 656, s.v. "Targa").

The Tuareg call themselves by the following names:
  • Amajagh (a Tuareg man).
  • Tamajaq (a Tuareg woman).
  • Imajaghan (Tuareg men, people).
  • Tamajaq (the Tuareg language).
  • Timajaghen (Tuareg women).
  • Kel Tamajaq (the Tuareg people).
  • Tifinagh (the Tuareg alphabet).


It is important to note that:
  • Amajagh, Amashegh, Amahagh, Amazigh (means a Tuareg or Berber man it differs following the region).
  • Tamajaq, Tamasheq, Tamahaq, Tamazight (means a Tuareg or Berber woman and Tuareg and Berber language).
  • Imajaghan, Imashaghan, Imuhagh, Imazighan (has the same meaning: Tuareg and Berber people).


The Tuareg today are found mostly in West Africa, some historians claim they progressively moved South over the last 2000 years. They were once nomads throughout the Sahara. They have a little-used but ancient script known as the Tifinagh.

History

Descended from Tin Hinan in the region that is now Tafilaltmarker, the Tuareg are ancient Saharan peoples described by Herodotus. He described the ancient Libyan people, the Garamantes. Archaeological evidence is found in the ruins of Germamarker. Later, the Tuareg ancestors expanded southward into the Sahel.

Tuaregs are mostly nomads. For over two millennia, the Tuareg operated the trans-Saharan caravan trade connecting the great cities on the southern edge of the Sahara via five desert trade routes to the northern (Mediterraneanmarker) coast of Africa. The Tuareg adopted camel nomadism, along with its distinctive form of social organization, from camel-herding Arabs about two thousand years ago, when the camel was introduced to the Sahara from Arabia. The Tuareg once took captives, either for trade and sale, or for domestic labor purposes. Those who were not sold became assimilated into the Tuareg community. Captive servants and herdsmen formed a component of the division of labor in camel nomadism.

In the late nineteenth century, the Tuareg resisted the Frenchmarker colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands. Tuareg broadswords were no match for the more advanced weapons of French squadrons. After numerous massacres on both sides, the Tuareg were subdued and required to sign treaties in Malimarker 1905 and Nigermarker 1917. In southern Algeriamarker, the French met some of the strongest resistance from the Ahaggarmarker Tuareg. Their Amenokal, traditional chief Moussa ag Amastan, fought numerous battles in defense of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance, and their confederations were largely dismantled and reorganized.

Before French colonization, the Tuareg were organized into loose confederations, each consisting of a dozen or so tribes. Each of the main groups had a traditional leader called Amenokal, along with an assembly of tribal chiefs (imɤaran, singular amɤar). The groups were the Kel Ahaggar, Kel Ajjer, Kel Ayr, Adrar n Fughas, Iwəlləmədan, and Kel Gres.

Following African countries' achieving independence in the 1960s, they divided the Tuareg territory among their modern nations: Nigermarker, Malimarker, Algeriamarker, Libyamarker, and Burkina Fasomarker.

Long-standing competition for resources in the Sahel has caused Tuareg conflicts with neighboring African groups, especially after political disruption and economic constraints following French colonization and independence. There have been tight restrictions placed on nomadization because of high population growth. Desertification is exacerbated by human activity i.e; exploitation of resources and the increased firewood needs of growing cities. Today, some Tuareg are experimenting with farming; some have been forced to abandon herding and seek jobs in towns and cities.

In Malimarker, a Tuareg uprising resurfaced in the Adrar N'Fughas mountains in the 1960s, following Mali's independence. Several Tuareg joined, including some from the Adrar des Iforas in northeastern Mali. The 1960 rebellion was a fight between a group of Tuareg and the independent state of Mali, which was then only recently formed. The Malian Army suppressed the revolt. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising.

This second uprising was in May 1996. At this time, in the aftermath of a clash between government soldiers and Tuareg outside a prison in Tchin-Tabaradenmarker, Niger, Tuaregs in both Mali and Niger claimed autonomy for their traditional homeland: (Tenere, capital Agadezmarker, in Niger and the Azawad and Kidalmarker regions of Mali). Deadly clashes between Tuareg fighters (with leaders such as Mano Dayak) and the military of both countries followed, with deaths numbering well into the thousands. Negotiations initiated by France and Algeriamarker led to peace agreements (January 11, 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger). Both agreements called for decentralization of national power and guaranteed the integration of Tuareg resistance fighters into the countries' respective national armies.

Major fighting between the Tuareg resistance and government security forces ended after the 1995 and 1996 agreements. As of 2004, sporadic fighting continued in Niger between government forces and Tuareg groups struggling for independence. In 2007, a new surge in violence occurred.

Traditional social stratification

Traditionally, Tuareg society is hierarchical, with nobility and vassals. Each Tuareg clan (tawshet) is made up of several family groups, led by their collective chiefs, the amghar. A series of tribes tawsheten may bond together under an Amenokal, forming a Kel clan confederation. Tuareg self identify is related only to their specific Kel, which means "those of". E.g. Kel Dinnig (those of the east), Kel Ataram (those of the west).

Nobility

The work of pastoralism was specialized according to social class. Tels are ruled by the imúšaɤ (Imajaghan, The Proud and Free) nobility, warrior-aristocrats who organized group defense, livestock raids, and the long-distance caravan trade. Below them were a number of specialised métier castes. The ímɤad (Imghad, singular Amghid), the second rank of Tuareg society, were free vassal-herdsmen and warriors, who pastured and tended most of the confederation's livestock. Formerly enslaved vassals of specific Imajaghan, they are said by tradition to be descended from nobility in the distant past, and thus maintain a degree of social distance from lower orders. Traditionally, some merchant castes had a higher status than all but the nobility among their more settled compatriots to the south. With time, the difference between the two castes has eroded in some places, following the economic fortunes of the two groups.

Imajaghan have traditionally disdained certain types of labor and prided themselves in their warrior skills. The existence of lower servile and semi-servile classes has allowed for the development of highly ritualised poetic, sport, and courtship traditions among the Imajaghan. Following colonial subjection, independence, and the famines of the 1970s and 1980s, noble classes have more and more been forced to abandon their caste differences. They have taken on labor and lifestyles they might traditionally have rejected.

Client castes

After the adoption of Islam, a separate class of religious clerics, the Ineslemen or marabouts, also became integral to Tuareg social structure. Following the decimation of many clans' noble Imajaghan caste in the colonial wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Ineslemen gained leadership in some clans, despite their often servile origins. Traditionally Ineslemen clans were not armed. They provided spiritual guidance for the nobility, and received protection and alms in return.

Inhædˤæn (Inadan), were a blacksmith-client caste who fabricated and repaired the saddles, tools, household equipment and other material needs of the community. In most communities, the Inadin were freedmen drawn from the servile éklan caste and considered outsi

Bonded castes and slaves

The Tuareg once held slaves (éklan / Ikelan in Tamasheq, Bouzou in Hausa, Bella in Songhai). In general, Tuareg skin color is darker than most Mediterranean Berbers, and lighter than most sub-Saharan populations. The Tuareg refer to themselves as "red-skinned", like most other Saharan peoples, including the Maures, and Tubu.

Tuareg moved south on the continent in the 11th century AD, taking slaves from other groups. These éklan once formed a distinct social class in Tuareg society. Some Tuareg noble and vassal men married slaves, and their children became freemen. In this sense, éklan formed distinct sub-communities; they were a class held in an inherited serf-like condition, common among societies in precolonial West Africa.

When French colonial governments were established, they passed legislation to abolish slavery, but did not enforce it. Some commentators believe the French interest was directed more at dismantling the traditional Tuareg political economy, which depended on slave labor for herding, than at freeing the slaves. Such scholars note that the French were trying to "pacify" the fiercely resistant Tuareg. This skeptical view ignores the French elimination of slavery in their former colonies in the Caribbean.

While post-independence states have sought to outlaw slavery, results have been mixed. Traditional caste relationships have continued in many places, including the institution of slavery. According to the Travel Channel show Bob Geldof in Africa, the descendants of those slaves known as the Bella are still slaves in all but name. In Nigermarker, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, a study found that almost 8% of the population are still enslaved.

Tuareg territory

Areas where significant numbers of Tuaregs live
The Tuareg people inhabit a large area, covering almost all the middle and western Sahara and the north-central Sahel. In Tuareg terms, the Sahara is not one desert but many, so they call it Tinariwen ("the Deserts"). Among the many deserts in Africa, there is the true desert Tenere. Other deserts are more and less arid, flat and mountainous: Adrarmarker, Tagant, Tawat (Touat) Tanezrouftmarker, Adghagh n Fughas, Tamasna, Azawagh, Adar, Damargu, Tagama, Manga, Ayrmarker, Tarramit (Termit), Kawar, Djadomarker, Tadmait, Admer, Igharghar, Ahaggarmarker, Tassili N'Ajjermarker, Tadrartmarker, Idhan, Tanghart, Fezzanmarker, Tibestimarker, Kalansho, Libyan Desertmarker, etc.

Tuareg confederations, political centers, and leaders

At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organized into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief (Amenokal), along with a counsel of seniors from each tribe. These elders called Imegharan (wisemen) are chosen to assist the chief of the confederation.



Traditionally, the most famous Tuareg leader was a woman, Tin Hinan, heroine and spiritual leader. Tin-Hinan was are Berber princess, accompagnied by her sister Takamat they came from Tafilalt mountains in Morocco (Ataram) and founded a legendary kingdom in the Ahaggar mountains. Other confederation leaders followed under the title of Amenokal (Chief), of whom the most famous include:

  • Amattaza, of the Lisawan
  • Afadandan, of the Lisawan
  • Karidanna, of the Iwillimmidan
  • Waisimudan, of Iwillimidan
  • Aljilani Ag Ibrahim, of Iwillimidan
  • Busari Ag Akhmad, of Iwillimidan
  • Musa Ag Amastan, of Kel Ahaggar
  • Ibrahim Ag Abakkada, of Kel Azjar
  • Amud, of Kel Azjar
  • Makhammad Ag Katami, of Iwillimmidan
  • Balkhu, of Kel Ayr
  • Wan Agoda, of Kel Faday (Kel Ayr)
  • Ahitaghal, of Kel Ahaggar
  • Akhanokhan, of Kel Azjar
  • Khadakhada, of Iwillimidan
  • Alkhurer, of Iwillimidan
  • Bazu, Iwillimidan
  • Makhammad Wan Ag Alkhurer Iwillimidan
  • Abdurrakhman Tagama, of Kel Ayr
  • Hammed Almomin Iwillimidan
  • Fihrun Ag Amansar, of Iwillimidan
  • Atisi Ag Amellal of Kel Ahaggar
  • Akhamok Ag Ihemma of Kel Ahaggar
  • Bay Ag Akhamok of Kel Ahaggar
  • Khamzata Ag Makhammad, of Iwillimidan
  • Edaber Ag Makhammad the new Amenokal of Kel Ahaggar


Culture

Clothing

Tuareg nomads in the south of Algeria


The Tuareg are matrilineal, and traditionally matriarchal. In Tuareg society women do not traditionally wear the veil, whereas men do. The most famous Tuareg symbol is the Tagelmust (also called éghéwed), referred to as a Cheche, pronounced "Shesh", from Berber), an often indigo blue-colored veil called Alasho. The men's facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits. It may have related instrumentally from the need for protection from the harsh desert sands as well. It is a firmly established tradition, as is the wearing of amulets containing sacre objects and from recently also verses from the Qur'an. Taking on the veil is associated with the rite of passage to manhood; men begin wearing a veil when they reach maturity. The veil usually conceals their face, excluding their eyes and the top of the nose.



Marriage is considered a private institution. Other people are not to interfere with a couple's marriage. The only tradition they know is a 'quarantine' period after one's spouse's death. During this period, the widow is supposed to make something whereby her husband may be remembered. She is not to see any other men. Men usually have to cleanse themselves physically and mentally after the death of a wife. There was not commonly punishment for women or men who were unfaithful.

Tuareg are not supposed to have more than one life partner: a love affair is practically equal to an engagement, and once a couple is recognized, the two people are supposed to get married. It is highly unusual for anyone to remain single. When a partner passes away, the survivor is expected to marry again after the period of quarantine. Exceptions are made if there are no potential partners, or the widow or widower is too old to get married.

Many Tuareg today are either settled agriculturalists or nomadic cattle breeders, though there are also blacksmiths and caravan leaders.

The Tuareg are sometimes called the "Blue People" because the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stained their skin dark blue. Today, the traditional indigo turban is still preferred for celebrations, and generally Tuaregs wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors.

Food

  • Taguella: The most famous tuareg food, taguella is a millet dough bread which is cooked in a charcoal fire in sand. It's eaten with a butter sauce.
  • Millet porridge: This is just millet boiled with water eaten with milk or a butter sauce.
  • Milk/cheese/yogurt: Goat and camel milk are turned into cheese and yogurt.
  • Eghajira: This is a beverage eaten with a ladle and is thick. It's made by pounding millet, goat cheese, milk and sugar.
  • Tea: is usually gunpowder tea and is served sweet and plain.


Language

The Tuareg speak Tamajaq/Tamasheq/Tamahaq, a southern Berber language having several dialects among the different regions. The Berber dialects spoken in the Rif (Tamazight), Atlas and Souss regions of Morocco differ somewhat from each other and also from the Tuareg dialects spoken further south. Berber is an Afro-Asiatic language like Semitic languages, Chadic languages and Pharaonic Egyptian. The language is called Tamasheq by western Tuareg in Mali, Tamahaq among Algerian and Libyan Tuareg, and Tamajaq in the Azawagh and Aïr regions, Niger. The Tamajaq writing system, Tifinagh (also called Shifinagh), descends directly from the original Berber script used by the Numidians in pre-Roman times.

Religion

Traditionally Tuaregs are animists. Nowdays they practice a syncretism between traditional animist beliefs and rituals and islamic ones and christian symbols.

Arts



Much Tuareg art is in the form of jewelry, leather and metal saddle decorations called trik, and finely crafted swords. The Inadan community makes traditional handicrafts. Among their products are: tanaghilt or zakkat (the 'Agadez Cross' or 'Croix d'Agadez'); the Tuareg Takoba, many gold and silver-made necklaces called 'Takaza'; and earrings called 'Tizabaten'.

Astronomy

Living in a desert land with skies rarely cloudy, the Tuareg are keen observers.

Tuareg Stars and Constellations:

  • Azzag Willi: indicating the time for milking the goats (Venus)
  • Shet Ahad: the seven sisters of the night (Pleiades)
  • Amanar: the warrior of the desert (Orion)
  • Talemt: she-camel (Ursa Major)
  • Awara: baby camel (Ursa Minor)


Traditional Houses

The oldest legends says Tuarerg once lived in grottoes, akazam, and then they lived in folliage beds made on the top acacia trees, tasagesaget, to avoid numerous wild animal during old times and even to this day to escape from mosquitoes. Other kinds of traditional housing include:

  • ahaket: Tuareg goaskin red tent
  • tafala: a shade made of millet sticks
  • akarban also called takabart: temporary hat for winter season
  • ategham: hat for hot season
  • taghazamt: adobe house for long stay
  • ahaket:a dome shaped house made of mats for the dry season


Tuareg weapons

  • takoba: 1 meter long straight sword
  • allagh: 2 meter long lance
  • agher: 1.50 meter high shield
  • tagheda: small and sharp assagai
  • taganze: leather covered-wooden bow
  • amur: wooden arrow
  • sheru: long dagger
  • taburek: wooden stick
  • alakkud or abartak: riding crop


In 2007, Stanford's Cantor Arts Center opened an exhibition, "Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World", the first such exhibit in the United States. It was curated by Tom Seligman, director of the center. He had first spent time with the Tuareg in 1971 when he traveled through the Sahara after serving in the Peace Corps. The exhibition included crafted and adorned functional objects such as camel saddles, tents, bags, swords, amulets, cushions, dresses, earrings, spoons and drums. The exhibition also was shown at the University of California, Los Angelesmarker Fowler Museum in Los Angelesmarker and the Smithsonianmarker’s National Museum of African Artmarker in Washington, DCmarker.

Throughout history, the Tuareg were renowned and respected warriors. Their decline as a military might came with the introduction of firearms, weapons which the Tuareg did not possess. The Tuareg warrior attire consisted of a takoba (sword), allagh (lance) and aghar (shield) made of antelope's skin.

Traditional music

Traditional Tuareg music has two major components: the moncord violin anzad played often during night parties and a small tambour covered with goatskin called tendemarker, performed during camel and horse races, and other festivities. Traditional songs called Asak and Tisiway (poems) are sung by women and men during feasts and social occasions. Another popular Tuareg musical genre is takamba, characteristic for its Afro-Berber percussions.

Vocal music
  • tisiway: poems
  • tasikisikit: songs performed by women, accompanied by tende, men on camel back turn around
  • asak: songs accompanied by anzad monocord violin.
  • tahengemmit: slow songs sung by elder men


Children and youth music

  • Bellulla songs made by children playing with the lips
  • Fadangama small monocord instrument for children
  • Odili flute made from trunk of sorghum
  • Gidga small wooden instrument with irons sticks to make strident sounds


Dance
  • tagest: dance made while seated, moving the head, the hands and the shoulders.
  • ewegh: stong dance performed by men, in couples and groups.
  • agabas: dance for modern ishumar guitars: women and men in groups.


In the 1980s rebel fighters founded Tinariwen, a Tuareg band that fuses electric guitars and indigenous musical styles. Tinariwen is one of the best known and authentic Tuareg bands. Especially in areas that were cut off during the Tuareg rebellion (e.g., Adrar des Iforas), they were practically the only music available, which made them locally famous and their songs/lyrics (eg Abaraybone, ...) are well known by the locals. They released their first CD in 2000, and toured in Europe and the United States in 2004. The Niger-based band Etran Finatawa combines Tuareg and Wodaabe members, playing a combination of traditional instruments and electric guitars.

Many music groups emerged after the 1980s cultural revival. Among the Tartit, Imaran and known artists are: Abdallah Oumbadougou from Ayr, Baly Othmany of Djanet.

Tuareg Music genres, groups and artists
Traditional Music

  • Majila Ag Khamed Ahmad, singer Asak (vocal music), of Aduk, Niger
  • Almuntaha female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger
  • Ajju female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Agadez, Niger
  • Islaman singer, genre Asak (vocal music), of Abalagh, Niger
  • Tambatan singer, genre Asak (vocal music), Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger
  • Alghadawiat female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Akoubounou, Niger
  • Taghdu female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger


Ishumar Music or Teshumara music style

  • In Tayaden singer and guitar player, Adagh
  • Abareybon singer and guitar player, Tinariwen group, Adagh
  • Kiddu Ag Hossad singer and guitar player, Adagh
  • Baly Othmani singer, luth player, Djanet, Azjar
  • Abdalla Ag Umbadugu, singer, Takrist N'Akal group, Ayr
  • Hasso Ag Akotey, singer, Ayr


Music and culture festivals
The Desert Festival in Mali's Timbuktu provides one opportunity to see Tuareg culture and dance and hear their music.

Other festivals include:

Games

Tuareg traditional games and plays include:

  • Tiddas, played with small stones and sticks.
  • Kelmutan: consists of singing and touching each person's leg, where the ends, that person is out: the last person loses the game.
  • Temse: comic game try to make the other team laugh and you win.
  • Izagag, played with small stones or dried fruits.
  • Iswa, played by picking up stones while throwing another stone.
  • Melghas, children hide themselves and another tries to find and touch them before they reach the well and drink.
  • Tabillant, traditional Tuareg wrestling
  • Alamom, wrestling while running
  • Solagh, another type of wrestling
  • Tammazaga or Tammalagha, race on camel back
  • Takket, singing and playing all night.
  • Sellenduq one person to be a jackal and try to touch the others who escape running.
  • Takadant, children try to imagine what the others are thinking.
  • Tabakoni: clown with a goatskin mask to amuse children.
  • Abarad Iqquran: small dressed wooden puppet that tells stories and make people laugh.
  • Maja Gel Gel: one person tries to touch all people standing, to avoid this sit down.
  • Bellus: everyone run not to be touched by the one who plays.
  • Tamammalt: pass a burning stick, when its blown off in ones hands tells who's the lover.
  • Ideblan: game with girl prepare food and go search for water and milk and fruits.
  • Seqqetu: play with girls to learn how to build tents, look after babies made of clay.
  • Mifa Mifa: beauty contest, girls and boys best dressed.
  • Taghmart: children pass from house to house singing to get presents: dates, sugar etc.
  • Melan Melan: try to find a riddle
  • Tawaya: play with the round fruit calotropis or a piece of cloth.
  • Abanaban: try to find people while eyes are shut.
  • Shishagheren, writing the name of one's lover to see if this person brings good luck.
  • Taqqanen, telling devinettes and enigmas.
  • Maru Maru, young people mime how the tribe works.


Economy



Tuareg are distinguished in their native language as the Imouhar, meaning the free people; the overlap of meaning has increased local cultural nationalism. The Tuareg are a pastoral people, having an economy based on livestock breeding, trading, and agriculture.

Caravan Trade

Since Prehistoric times Tuareg peoples and their Berber ancestors: the Garamantes have been organising caravans for trading across the Sahara desert. The caravan is called in Tamashek: Tarakaft or Taghlamt and also Azalay.

These caravans used first oxen, horses and later camels as a means of transportation, here differents types of caravans:
  • caravans transporting food: dates, millet, dryed meat, dryed Tuareg cheese, butter etc.
  • caravans transporting garments, alasho indigo turbans, leather products, ostrich feathers,
  • caravans transporting salt: salt caravans used for exchange against other products.
  • caravans transporting nothing but made to sell and buy camels.


Salt mines or salines in the desert.

A contemporary variant is occurring in northern Niger, in a traditionally Tuareg territory that comprises most of the uranium-rich land of the country. The central government in Niamey has shown itself unwilling to cede control of the highly profitable mining to indigenous clans. The Tuareg are determined not to relinquish the prospect of substantial economic benefit. The French government has independently tried to defend a French firm, Areva, established in Niger for fifty years and now mining the massive Imouraren deposit.

Additional complaints against Areva are that it is: "...plundering...the natural resources and [draining] the fossil deposits. It is undoubtedly an ecological catastrophe." These mines yield uranium ores, which are then processed to produce yellowcake, crucial to the nuclear power industry (as well as aspirational nuclear powers). In 2007, some Tuareg people in Niger allied themselves with the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a rebel group operating in the north of the country. During 2004-2007, U.S. Special Forces teams trained Tuareg units of the Nigerien Army in the Sahel region as part of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. Some of these trainees are reported to have fought in the 2007 rebellion within the MNJ. The goal of these Tuareg appears to be economic and political control of ancestral lands, rather than operating from religious and political ideologies.

Despite the Sahara’s erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns, the Tuareg have managed to survive in the hostile desert environment for centuries. Over recent years however, depletion of water by the uranium exploitation process combined with the effects of climate change are threatening their ability to subsist. Uranium mining has diminished and degraded Tuareg grazing lands. Not only does the mining industry produce radioactive waste that can contaminate crucial sources of ground water resulting in cancer, stillbirths, and genetic defects but it also uses up huge quantities of water in a region where water is already scarce. This is exacerbated by the increased rate of desertification thought to be the result of global warming. Lack of water forces the Tuareg to compete with southern farming communities for scarce resources and this has led to tensions and clashes between these communities. The precise levels of environmental and social impact of the mining industry have proved difficult to monitor due to governmental obstruction.

Ethnic classification

Close up of an old tuareg from Algeria
The Tuareg are classified as a Berber group, and are closely related to both Northwest African Berbers and West Africans, in terms of culture and ethnicity. Some scholars argue that the Tuareg are defined by language and culture, not by ethnicity. They define only predominantly Tamasheq speakers as "Tuareg" (and, presumably, by implication, also individuals of Tuareg descent who have assimilated into various countries and no longer speak Tamasheq languages). Lack of consensus on how to classify the Tuareg is probably part of the reason for the widely varying estimates of population size.

Ethnic flag

The Tuareg ethnic flag is red, white, and blue.

In popular culture

  • The Tuareg are the antagonists of the French Foreign Legion in Percival Christopher Wren's 1924 adventure novel Beau Geste and the films that were based on it.
  • Spanish author Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa's novel Tuareg (1980) was his most critically and commercially successful, with global sales in excess of 5,000,000 copies.
  • The 2005 film Sahara featured a fictionalised group of Tuareg as a faction in a civil war underway in Mali.
  • Bruce Sterling used a fictionalised Tuareg tribe in his novel Islands in the Net.
  • David Ball's 1999 novel Empires of Sand tells the story of French and Tuareg cousins.
  • French author J. M. G. Le Clézio's novel Desert tells of the last days of the Tuareg, the desert nomads known as the "Blue People".
  • In 2003 Volkswagen introduced a new SUV named the Touareg.
  • In 2009 Vivisphere Publishing released The Tuareg a romantic historical adventure. ISBN 978-1-58776-157-7
  • In the Nickelodeon animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, the nomadic characters known as "sand benders" are based on the Tuareg people.
  • In the video game "Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War," Tuaregs are available to the player as mercenary troops. However, their portrayal is rather unrealistic, showing them as similar to Mongolian troops from the time of Genghis Khan, rather than North African nomads.


See also



References

  1. See Rodd 1926.
  2. Edouard Bernus. "Les palmeraies de l'Aïr", Revue de l'Occident Musulman et de la Méditerranée, 11, (1972) pp.37-50.
  3. Frederick Brusberg. "Production and Exchange in the Saharan Air", Current Anthropology, Vol. 26, No. 3. (Jun., 1985), pp. 394-395. Field research on the economics of the Aouderas valley, 1984.
  4. Samuel Decalo. Historical Dictionary of Niger. Scarecrow Press, London and New Jersey (1979). ISBN 0810812290
  5. Jolijn Geels. Niger. Bradt London and Globe Pequot New York (2006). ISBN 1841621528
  6. Michael J. Mortimore. "The Changing Resources of Sedentary Communities in Air, Southern Sahara", Geographical Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Jan., 1972), pp. 71-91.
  7. * Anti-Slavery International & Association Timidira, Galy kadir Abdelkader, ed. Niger: Slavery in Historical, Legal and Contemporary Perspectives. March 2004
  8. Hilary Andersson, "Born to be a slave in Niger", BBC Africa, Niger
  9. "Kayaking to Timbuktu, Writer Sees Slave Trade, More", National Geographic.
  10. "The Shackles of Slavery in Niger"
  11. "Niger: Slavery - an unbroken chain"
  12. "On the way to freedom, Niger's slaves stuck in limbo", Christian Science Monitor
  13. "The Shackles of Slavery in Niger", ABC News
  14. "First Exhibition of Tuareg Art and Culture in America Appears at Stanford Before Traveling to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art", Cantor Arts Center
  15. http://wwwusers.imaginet.fr/~yusuf/introduction.html
  16. Tuareg ethnic flag:


  • Ghoubeid Alojaly, Karl Prasse, Ghabdouane Mohamed, Dictionnaire touareg-français, Copenhague, Museum Tusculanum, 2003 (2 vols., 1031 p.) - ISBN 8772898445
  • Francis James Rennell Rodd, People of the veil. Being an account of the habits, organisation and history of the wandering Tuareg tribes which inhabit the mountains of Air or Asben in the Central Sahara, London, MacMillan & Co., 1926 (repr. Oosterhout, N.B., Anthropological Publications, 1966)
  • Heath Jeffrey 2005: A Grammar of Tamashek (Tuareg of Mali). New York: Mouton de Gruyer. Mouton Grammar Library, 35. ISBN 3-11-018484-2
  • Rando et al. (1998) "Mitochondrial DNA analysis of northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, near-eastern, and sub-Saharan populations". Annals of Human Genetics 62(6): 531-50; Watson et al. (1996) mtDNA sequence diversity in Africa. American Journal of Human Genetics 59(2): 437-44; Salas et al. (2002) "The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape". American Journal of Human Genetics 71: 1082-1111. These are good sources for information on the genetic heritage of the Tuareg and their relatedness to other populations.


Further reading

  • Edmond Bernus, "Les Touareg," pp. 162–171 in Vallées du Niger, Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993.
  • Andre Bourgeot, Les Sociétés Touarègues, Nomadisme, Identité, Résistances, Paris: Karthala, 1995.
  • Hélène Claudot-Hawad, ed., "Touregs: Exil et Résistance". Révue du Monde Musulman et de la Méiterranée, No. 57, Aix en Provence: Edisud, 1991.
  • Claudot-Hawad, Touaregs, Portrait en Fragments, Aix en Provence: Edisud, 1993.
  • Hélène and Hawad Claudot-Hawad, "Touaregs: Voix Solitaires sous l'Horizon Confisque", Ethnies-Documents No. 20-21, Hiver, 1996.
  • Mano Dayak, Touareg: La Tragedie, Paris: Éditions Lattes, 1992.
  • Sylvie Ramir, Les Pistes de l'Oubli: Touaregs au Niger, Paris: éditions du Felin, 1991.


External links




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