Je suis le fils de la terre maternelle
Je suis l’enfant des douleurs éternelles
Je ne suis pas le seigneur du désert
Mais l’esclave des horizons nus

I am the son of the maternal ground
I am the child of eternal pain
I am not the lord of the desert
But the slave of naked horizons

From the poem ‘Pas de Nom’ (‘No Name’) by Issa Rhossey, a Touareg poet from the Aïr region. The poem is published in ‘Tourne-tête, le pays déchiqueté’, a collection of modern Touareg poetry edited by Hélène Claudot-Hawad and Hawad, and published by Éditions Amara. This extract is translated from French by Andy Morgan.


From the website’s About page (though I am not sure who wrote this text…) :

When the time came, I ducked under the red leather animal hide covers of a traditional Touareg tent and sat myself down gingerly on a sandy technicolor floor mat. The cool and dark space was filled by about seven men, sitting, lounging, cross-legged, squatting, unperturbed, relaxed and minimalist in their movements. Some were turbanned, others were not. There was Hassan aka Abin Abin aka the Lion of the Desert, Mohammed aka Japonais, Abdallah aka Catastrophe, Ibrahim aka Abaraybone, Kheddou and other extended members of the crew like Sweiloum, Diarra and Bigga. They sat immobile like resting fighters, neither aggressive nor overly friendly. Their calmness and lack of excess… excess talk, excess movement, excess belongings, excess emotion… flustered me. A tea was being prepared with unforced ritual. Tea drinking in the Sahara is emblematic of hospitality, friendship and the slow baked pace of things. I set up my DAT nervously and then asked the dumbest but most obvious question available to the unprepared journalist, “How did it all begin?” Long pause. Mild panic. Tinariwen remained ice cool. Eventually Japonnais began to answer the question in minuscule chunks of guttural and heavily accented French, each punctuated with the phrase “Est ce que tu vois ça?” or “do you get me?”, which sounded more like ‘Iskitiwassa?” Those bafflingly oriental facial features, which are the source of his nickname, remained sharp and penetrating, Shogun-like, throughout. Then after about a minute he motioned me to switch off my DAT machine and proceeded to confer with his brothers-in-arms, in Tamashek, the Touareg language. A full-blown debate started to brew. There seemed to be disagreements about dates, times, names and places. Fifteen minutes later the discussion was still raging, and I was still sitting there, largely ignored, with my inactive DAT machine in front of me. It was almost comical. ( Click to read more …)

Tinariwen & Carlos Santana : Amassakoul