We are in Africa, to find out how the Tuareg live, a Berber people of over half a million people, traditionally nomadic and settled in the desert areas of the Sahara. The presence is widespread in many nations of North and Central Africa including Algeria, Libya, Mali and Burkina Faso. But the Tuareg do not define themselves as such, but as Kel Tamahaq, or “those who speak the Tamahaq language”. The history of this population has its roots in a very distant past, so much so that it is not possible to go back to a precise origin. Always known for their ability to survive in numerous social groups despite the desert environment, for centuries the Tuareg have lived with the breeding and trade of animals such as sheep, goats, dromedaries; regarding the latter, they were the first to use them for long Saharan crossings thanks to their sturdy build and resistant to heat and drought. Today, nomads and dromedaries live almost in symbiosis.
But despite this bond dictated by mutual survival, dromedaries are not allowed to cross the threshold of a tent, as this privilege is reserved for only one animal: the Azawakh breed dog, faithful companion in hunting in the desert. Classified as an African greyhound, this extraordinary dog ​​is able to spot a movement three kilometers away, and then launch itself in pursuit of prey (especially hares and gazelles), up to a speed of 40 km per hour. The azawakh is a very difficult dog to conquer and train, therefore it requires continuous attention and a relationship based also on firmness and discipline; but when the bond strengthens, between man and dog a real friendship is triggered.
Also called “blue men” and also celebrated by legendary films such as “The tea in the desert” (Bertolucci, 1990), they can be recognized by the taguelsmut, the typical turban that covers the face leaving only the eyes free, to defend against the very high temperatures of the areas. desert. This turban is usually indigo-colored, but the color can also vary according to social class: blue for the nobles, black for ordinary people, white (in the past) for slaves.
The black tent as a home is still used today by about a hundred tribes, and is made up of sheets in goat wool, a fiber which, due to its resistance and length, is ideal for this use. The black color is chosen for practical reasons: a black cloth gives more shade, therefore it protects better from the intense light of the tropical and south-tropical sun; being then not very tightly knitted, these sheets also insulate very well from the heat. The continuous exchange of air between inside and outside, which takes place during the day through the fibers, means that inside the black curtains the temperature remains much lower than that outside. At night – or when it rains – the sheets get wet and shrink, so the heat that forms inside the tent is not dispersed while the goat wool with which the sheets are woven, which is rather greasy,
The structure of the tent is made up of central poles which determine the greatest height, slightly higher than that of a man; the side posts mark the minimum height; the closure and a rectangular cloth made up of many strips of goat wool fabric sewn together. The edges of the fabrics extend to the sides like tie rods and are blocked to the ground with pegs. Inside, several layers of woven wool carpets are used as flooring. As a bed, cushions and textile beds raised off the ground and covered in turn with sheets; as objects and crockery: containers in metal or woven fibers, while tea is served in small glass or silver glasses.
Internally, the tent is divided into two large rooms: one larger, for women and children, the other smaller, intended for men. We like to underline how the female figure has extreme importance in the Tuareg population: in addition to enjoying great freedom, it is women who keep and manage the family assets, and it is they who have the right to divorce.
One of the rites that are also celebrated as a sign of hospitality, is the preparation of tea, a ceremony with which the Tuareg wish good wishes to their guests or, alternatively, to the travelers they meet on their way. According to tradition, the tea ceremony is used to bring distant cultures closer, to relax after the hardships of the desert and to make friends and alliances. Each tasting is dictated by three courses of you: the first bitter, the second bittersweet, the third sweet and tasty. Together, these drinks represent the cycles of existence: death, life and love.

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