Mesmerizing

Targui = singular

Touareg = plural

Also called “Kel Tamashek” (something like “those who speak Tamashek”).

How do I know this? For a long time, I had a bunch of books, some quite old, in storage in the US that I once bought in Amsterdam. I also borrowed some for a while. About (mostly) northern Africa.

How come? A long time ago, when I was working at a large hotel in Amsterdam, a guy checked in who was living in the US – I think he had a travel agency there, in Virginia – and he completed part of his check-in card in French, as he had been born in Oran.

I realized that I knew nothing about the country he must have grown up in and went to the library, started reading. I soon went south and this is how I ran into the Touareg and their rich culture. Music, poetry, dance, lifestyle. I found them very inspiring.

I crossed into the Sahel too, into Mali for example, but I stopped there (until I later got into apartheid a little bit).

I seem to remember that the white dress is worn by royalty or only on special occasions and that the royal blue is the more commonly worn color. The Touareg cover their faces out of respect for you, if I recall correctly.

So at first, the title “The Voice of Tamashek Women” looked like it had been translated incorrectly, but during the interview, Eyadou Ag Leche talks about “the Tamashek style” so it apparently is more complicated than merely “language”. More like “culture”? Kel Tamashek then becomes something like “those who speak the language of that culture”, maybe.

Reading up on Africa in the early ’80s made me aware how much we of the west messed up there. The way I see it, we caused many of the drought (food) problems there because we didn’t think people in Africa knew how their own land worked and we started drawing lines and called them borders and told people to stay put instead of move around like they had always done.

I also had Geoffrey Moorhouse’s “The fearful void”.

“I’m in a complete solitude, where thoughts frighten me, and lost in their midst I arose and noticed that I was thirsty and wanted water.”

Wonderful that I now get to hear what the books I read sounded like, so to speak.

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