The Tahoua Tuareg of Mali
Although little is known about the Tahoua, it is thought that they are part of a Tuareg tribe that once lived in the town of Tahoua, southern Niger. Today, the Tamasheq-speaking Tahoua live in Niger, while the Tamajeq-speaking Tahoua live in Mali.
Although the origin and early history of the Tuareg are cloudy, these tribal nomads appear to have traveled down from North Africa in a series of migrations as early as the seventh century. By the end of the 1300's, Tuareg tribes had established themselves as far south as the Nigerian border.
What are their lives like?
In the Southern Sahara, many Tuareg, particularly those from the Negro classes, are now settled farmers living in villages surrounded by grain fields. Since farming is seasonal work, many of the young men also take jobs as blue-collar workers in Nigeria, Ghana, or Ivory Coast for part of the year.
In 1972, the worst drought in 50 years struck the Sahara, bringing disaster and severe stress to the Tuareg. The nomads were forced to travel southward with their families in search of pastures for their herds. This massive migration intensified as water supplies began to fail. Conflicts over rights and obligations among the people and governments of the regions were also generated. Many animals died of thirst, hunger, or fatigue during the long journey. Thousands of Tuareg drifted to the cities where they set up cowhide shelters and lean-to shanties on the fringes of town.
Although the rains in 1974 were good, they did not wash away the serious economic and social effects of the drought, and life for the Tuareg was never to be the same. Many Tuareg, tempted by the less rigorous urban lifestyle, never returned to their original homeland.
Even today, the Tuareg depend on their animals for survival; however, meat and milk are not enough, especially during the dry years. The basic elements of the Tuareg diet are milk, grains, and dates. Fresh vegetables are rarely eaten. Millet is raised both in the Saharan oases and in Sudan. Though meat is highly preferred, it is not eaten on a regular basis. Goat is the most commonly eaten meat; camel is rarely eaten.
The Tuareg nomads live in small, lightweight, leather tents or grass huts. A tent is usually about 10 feet long and 10 to 15 feet wide. A household can pack its goods on the backs of two camels, while one or two donkeys carry their odds and ends.
The Tuareg wear clothing that is loose and lightweight. In direct contrast to Arab custom, all of the men wear veils called tidjelmousts; the women do not wear veils. The most preferred tidjelmousts are dyed indigo, though many men wear black. To show respect, the men always cover their mouths, noses, and foreheads while in the presence of foreigners or their in-laws.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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