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Tuaregs: From Hear To Timbuktu?

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 1, 2012

Are the rebels in Northern Mali “TUAREG” fighters? Are they fighting alone?

Who are Tuarges, anyway?

Tuaregs are probably distant relatives of Ethiopians, Egyptians and Moroccans. Maybe Christianity had a certain influence on them: Tuareg blacksmiths sculpt beautiful Crossess like the one on the image. The crosses, worn as pendants were originally worn by men and passed from father to son. Most of the cross designs are named after oasis towns. The Ethiopian influence in them is obvious.

The Tuareg belong to the large Berber community, which stretches from the Canary Islands to Egypt and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Niger River. They are the only Berber speaking community to have preserved and used the Tifinagh writing. Nomads of vast arid lands, the common denominator of the dispersed Tuareg is the language, Tamasheq. Consequently, they identify themselves as Kel Tamasheq (people of Tamasheq). The Tuareg who had originally lived in the northern tier of Africa but were later chased southwards by successive Arab invasions.

At the independence of African States the Tuareg found themselves scattered among various states (Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, etc.). Now they are threatened in their survival even for reasons of the establishment of borders, which had been unknown before, and also because of the economic evolution and climatic conditions. They find themselves dominated, humiliated and, for some, reduced to the state of refugees. Because of administrative constraints and their political marginalisation, added to their geographical isolation, it seems an uphill task to establish a true figure of the Tuareg and their distribution.

The Tuareg themselves claim to be more than three million. Yet their number has variously been estimated at some 1.5 to 2 million, with the majority of some 750,000 living in Niger, and 550,000 in Mali. In Algeria they are estimated at 40,000, excluding some 100,000 refugees from Mali and Niger, and the same number is officially admitted to live in Burkina Faso. Proper figures are not established in Libya and other West African francophone countries.

In the Sahel countries of Mali and Niger, genocide has for years been perpetrated by the regimes of the two countries against the Tuareg people, and to which the entire world seems to turn a blind eye. The Tuareg tragedy has not been a priority of world opinion simply because it is a slow burning conflict.

Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion



2 Responses to “Tuaregs: From Hear To Timbuktu?”

  1. Rebecca said

    The Tauregs are definitely using weapons from Libya…they were portrayed in the media as Mercenaries for Gaddafi. They first came to my attention last summer as they were said to be protecting him…and Mali was mentioned as a potential place of exile for Gaddafi and his sons. That being said and knowing the current situation of the Gaddafi regime…it was confusing to read that Tauregs were battling Malian government forces and the events of this past weekend are forcing me to take a new look. The possibility that the media accounts are misleading and not properly explaining the situation is apparent.

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