Camel Racing

The Shiriken, or camel festival, takes place every Spring in Akoubounou, Niger – a small town near Abalak in the western part of the country. Tuaregs from the region gather for horse and camel racing, tende music and dancing, Tuareg blues under the stars, and people watching. Community leaders established the festival as a wayContinue reading “Camel Racing”

Agadez’s Grand Mosque

Entering the minaret, you crouch on all fours to pass through a small doorway. Grains of sand stick to your hands and bare feet as you crawl up the unevenly spaced dry mud stairs. It is pitch black. As you twist your way up the tight turns, bats take flight, skimming your shoulders and theContinue reading “Agadez’s Grand Mosque”

Niamey Flood

Heavy rains across the Sahel have resulted in flooding along the Niger River. Local papers have reported at least 43 deaths and the destruction of thousands of homes and farms in affected areas. Several neighborhoods in Niamey, the capital, have been submerged since August 19th. Families are living at schools and mosques, surviving with whateverContinue reading “Niamey Flood”

Men Who Wear the Veil

During my recent trip to the Aïr Mountains of northern Niger, Tuareg musicians welcomed us to Timia, an isolated oasis town nestled between steep mountains. According to Tuareg custom, men begin “wearing the veil” at age 18 to protect themselves from evil djinns, or spirits, that enter the body through the mouth. Conversely, a woman’sContinue reading “Men Who Wear the Veil”