Δευτέρα, 16 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Father Antipas of Kenya: "I appeal to all of you to set your hearts up summing a foundation that will help support our work here in Africa"...

Basil Vetas, In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

The distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Kenya, the school board, parents, teachers and students I greet you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I am Reverend Father Antipas, a Greek-Orthodox priest (*) serving within the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, of the Holy Archbishopric of Kenya. I was born on the 23rd July 1974, as a first born in a family of 5 children. My mother fell ill and remained in that condition for almost two years before she passed on. My father was a peasant farmer, and it became only natural for me to join my father on the farm. I also had to leave school from time to time to go and engage in child labor. Instead of being in school, I had to work on tea and sugarcane farms for a meager pay to help supplement my father’s effort to make ends meet.

(*) Note of our blog: "Greek-Orthodox" here means "Byzantine", the ancient Christian Church = the Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa).

I was therefore on and off from school until I met a Coptic Orthodox priest who took me back to school in grade seven. I completed my primary education, and he later took me to a good high school. Unfortunately, this priest also passed on. I once again dropped out of school and left my rural home and came to Nairobi in search of a better life, where I visited a Coptic Orthodox church and served there briefly as a reader.

I met Father Philippos who Introduced me to a Greek-Orthodox priest, Father Innocentios, who is now the Orthodox Bishop of Rwanda and Burundi . This priest developed in me the desire for priesthood; he sponsored me for a teachers training course and later helped me to join the Orthodox Seminary, after which I became a priest. 

The Orthodox Bishop of Rwanda and Burundi Innocentios (from here)

Today, I am a married priest with two children, and I thank God for the opportunity to give back to the society through my priestly ministry and through the Dagoretti School.

My ministry as a priest enabled me to interact with many slum children in Nairobi. Many of these children lived in conditions far worse than what I experienced as a young boy; their plight and my own experience planted in me the desire to establish a school for them.

I shared my vision with my bishop and he gave me his blessing. I then approached a few friends and we founded this school as a community-based organization to end up providing the children with education, talent development, mentorship and technical training. Today we have a full primary school and we have also started St. Nektarios High School as a project of Dagoretti School to help us provide secondary education to the children. We hope to find partnerships, partners and well-wishers who will help us to buy land and build a proper school, and a training center and an Orthodox chapel to help us serve the children better.

Many of our children came from single families. Some are orphans mainly due to the HIV scourge. Some are drawn from the streets where they begged for assistance. Some were exposed to child prostitution and sexual molestation. We therefore need to feed, educate, council, rehabilitate and mentor them.

For this reason, I count myself privileged to have met Mr. Basil who agreed to help fund my studies for a Bachelors of Arts in Sustainable Human Development. I thank you all for meeting here today to fundraise for this noble cause. This degree will help me acquire a new set of skills and competencies for a better service to God and to the community.

I therefore appeal to all of you to set your hearts up summing a foundation that will help support our work here in Africa. I encourage you to have a very close partnership with us so that you can work with us to ensure a transparent and accountable use of finances. In order to share with you proper documentary of the situation, kindly plan for an invitation and support to make it possible for me to be able to travel to the U.S. and share more about the school and about the projects we are running here.

Remember us in your prayers and may God bless us all. Amen.

See also

Orthodox Kenya (tag) 
African Orthodox Church of Kenya / Facebook

Σάββατο, 14 Ιανουαρίου 2017

The Authority of the Church, the Protestants & the African Initiated Churches

The purpose of this study (original title "The Authority of the Church") is to point out certain differences between Protestantism and Orthodoxy, and to arouse the interest of Protestants who have never become properly acquainted with the Orthodox Church of the Lord.
Note of our blog: It also regards the African Initiated Churches, which are the "Protestantism of Africa".

  The canonical Orthodox Bishop Neoprytos in Kenya (from here)

Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries

1. Arbitrary authority

It is customary amongst Protestant religions -when someone disagrees with certain of their dogmas- to break away and form another, independent team of their own. These teams quite often evolve into self-dependent, separate religions, which baptize, distribute bread and wine, ordain “elders” and pursue many other activities.

There are also teams, even individual persons, who congregate and study the Bible without the presence of “elders”, or any other kind of infrastructure. The latter usually believe it is wrong for someone to belong to a religion and they maintain that a Christian should remain free of any commitments in any religious area.

But, are these stances and customs proper? Could there be something that all these people have overlooked and should re-examine?

A first question that arises in the first instance is the issue of authority. Perhaps certain people should ask themselves: “With what authority am I creating a new religion? With what right do I baptize, or distribute bread and wine, or ordain Elders? Is it really alright for one to proceed with such actions? Who put me in charge, who made me an Elder, so that I too can superintend over a new congregation?”

Similarly, those who are “independent” of religions should ask themselves: “Is it possible for me to be following - as I claim- the paradigm of the apostles and the first Christians, when I don’t belong to any Church the way they did? Where are the Elders of my congregation? When was someone of us ordained, by someone who had this authority? With what authority do I baptize? Is my participation in the supper of the Lord a valid one, when it is an arbitrary participation? How can I be a part of the worldwide and all-time body of the Church, when I have no communion with any of the other Churches of the Lord? Or is my team, or my person, perhaps the only one that is Christian? So, which are the Churches of the Lord, according to the paradigm of the apostles?

As strange as it may sound to a Christian, there are many people who actually do act this arbitrarily in such important matters as faith and salvation. The reason for this behavior is that is has become a force of habit, from their Protestant roots. 

The canonical Orthodox Bishop Jonah of Uganda 
(from the article Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church)
When Protestantism introduced Reform in the West, it did not comprise a continuation of an apostolically rendered arrangement, it was merely an autonomous and independent protest; there was no historical continuance in their protestation, and no-one with such authority ever ordained Luther or Calvin as Elders in their new religion. Even if they had been ordained by a former Papist (since there was no-one in this new religion to perform an ordination), this ordination would still not be valid, because the Papists had already been pronounced a heretic congregation at that time. No-one from another religion would undertake to ordain Elders in a newly-formed, rivalrous faith. This would have been incongruous, because both the ordainer of the one religion and the ordained of the other religion are equally in heresy, and consequently, the ordination is deemed invalid.

So, given that Protestantism suddenly penetrated history, it naturally found itself without Elders and without any legally bestowed authority to perform its religious obligations. It was therefore compelled to act arbitrarily, from the very first moment it appeared.

Conclusion: All Protestant “elders” officiate arbitrarily; they have no historical continuance and no authority to officiate.

It is no wonder, that all affiliated Protestant groups act in a similar way; they just haven’t realized that what they do is impermissible. 

2. The paradigm of the apostles

One excuse that is offered by Protestants is that since all Christians belong to a “Regal Priesthood”, they all have the authority to baptize and to elect Elders, as well as to distribute bread and wine. Thus, they do not need any special ordination for these things. And although there is a multitude of Church regulations (Canons) that prove the absurdity of these assertions, we feel obliged to convince them of the facts, by referring them to the paradigm of the apostles themselves, since they refuse to accept the regulations of the Church.

We shall therefore prove that in the era of the apostles, the hieratic status of Christians did not comprise a prerequisite that allowed them to act arbitrarily. We shall see how ordination as well as a given mission was compulsory, in order for someone to be able to baptize, distribute bread and wine, or superintend the Christian congregations of the first centuries.

This continues to apply in the Church of the Lord to this day, as it always did, and as is witnessed by all the proto-Christian writings that have been preserved until now. In the narrations of the Acts of the Apostles, it is clear that God did not act independently of His Church, as Protestants assert.

Let’s look at a few examples:

When the 7 deacons were elected in the Church, this didn’t take place arbitrarily; the laying on of the Apostle’s hands was necessary: “whom they placed before the apostles, and while praying, they (apostles) placed their hands upon them” (Acts 6/VI 3-6)p,

These 7 deacons weren’t “appointed” by any arbitrary religious leadership; it was after the laying on of the hands of the apostles themselves. As for the Apostles, they too had received authority for all this, from Jesus Christ Himself, and they also never acted arbitrarily: “Verily I say unto you, whatever is bound by you on earth is bound in heaven and whatever is unbound by you on earth is unbound in heaven. And again, verily I say unto you, that if two amongst you should agree on anything that they might request, it will be done unto them, by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18/XVIII 18,19)

“..for Jesus said to them again: Peace be with you. Just as my Father sent me forth, thus I send you forth. Having said this, He blew His breath upon them and said to them: Receive Holy Spirit. If you discharge (people’s) sins, they will be forgiven; if you do not discharge them, they will be remain firm” (John 20/XX 21-23)

It is therefore clearly evident that in the Church there is a line of authority: the Father sent forth the Son, the Son sent forth the apostles, and they, with the tremendous authority that was bestowed upon them, commenced to distribute authority to others. 


Apostle Paul ordain st Titus in Crete (icon from here)

Let’s examine a few more tracts of the Holy Bible as examples:

When Philip the evangelist preached in Samaria - despite all the miracles that he performed – he did not have the authority to transmit the Holy Spirit into the newly baptized, because only the apostles had this authority at the time. “When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had embraced the Word of God, they sent there Peter and John, who, on their way down (to Samaria) prayed for them, so that they might receive Holy Spirit…. On seeing that the Spirit is given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, Simon brought them money, saying: “Give me this authority also, so that whomever I lay my hands on will receive Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8/VIII 4-19)

When Saul (the one who was later renamed Paul) converted to the Christian faith and was sent forth by Jesus Christ Himself, the mission and the instructions given by the very Lord were not enough! The Lord sent him Ananias ( who was a Christian and had the power of healing ), to baptize Saul and to transmit the Holy Spirit into him. This narration is in Acts 9/IX 1 - 19. But even Ananias, when placing his hands on Saul, declares that he had received the authority to do so: “ and on laying his hands upon him, he (Ananias) said: Saul my brother, the Lord sent me: Jesus, the One who you saw on the road that you were coming from, so that you can regain your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.”

It is evident here, how significant the source of every authority for every action was, to the first Christians. Good intentions were not enough, not even the decision of the Lord; The act had to be endorsed by a Christian appointed by the Lord, so that everything be done in Ecclesiastic order. 

The canonical Orthodox Bishop Ieronymos of Mwanza, Tanzania (from here)
But even so, the mission given directly by the Lord did not suffice for the apostle Paul. Following a revelation, he sought out the apostles that preceded him, so that he might obtain from them the authority to perform his mission of preaching to nations. This narration is in Galatians 2/II 1 - 10: ΄΄Then……. I went up to Jerusalem…... according to a revelation. And I reported to them (the apostles) the gospel that I preach to the nations - and personally to them that are cognizant - for them to determine whether I am -or have been- heading towards a void…….and upon ascertaining the grace that was bestowed upon me, James and Peter and John – who are believed to be pillars – offered the communion of (laid) their right hand on myself and Barnabas…..”...΄΄

The exact same thing happened, when the Lord sent Peter to Cornelius; the Lord didn’t send the Holy Spirit to Cornelius directly; He first sent Peter, in order to baptize Cornelius as well. (Acts 10/X 44-48)

Even in Antioch, when the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas on a mission, this took place only after those who had the authority laid their hands upon them. (Acts 13/XIII 1 - 3).

The apostle Paul in turn laid his hands upon Timothy, in order to convey authority to him, so that he may undertake the office of Bishop in Ephesus: ΄΄I wish to remind you to rekindle the charisma of God that is within you by the laying on of my hands” (Timothy Β 1/I 6).

In the same way, both Timothy as well as Titus in Crete had been given the authority to ordain Elders. (Timothy Α 5/V 17 - 20. Titus 1/I 5).

Saint Ignatius (icon), a 2nd century bishop, acted in the same spirit:΄΄Without that (approval) of a Bishop, not even baptism is permitted...΄΄ (Smyrnaeans, 8). ΄΄It (the Eucharist) is one, being under a Bishop΄΄. (Magnesians, 6-7).

We see therefore, that the offices of the Church are not just for everyone who believes in Christ; the officiator has to first receive the authority from those who have it, and who can transmit it to them.

It would therefore be a wise move, for those who arbitrarily undertake Church functions, to reconsider their ways and seek to acquire the authority from those who have such authority in the Orthodox Church: from those who are the successors of the apostles according to the Lord’s intention.

Translation by A.N.

Greek text

See also
African Initiated Churches in Search of Orthodoxy... 
During the time that Luther and Calvin were formulating the Reformation...
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?
Charismatic Revival As a Sign of the Times 
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa

The Orthodox Church of Alexandria & the Patriarchate of Alexandria
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)

The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith  
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»

Παρασκευή, 13 Ιανουαρίου 2017

To See Him Face to Face

“The self resides in the face.” – Psychological Theorist, Sylvan Tompkins

Glory 2 God for all things

There is a thread running throughout the Scriptures that can be described as a “theology of the face.” In the Old Testament we hear a frequent refrain of “before Thy face,” and similar expressions. There are prayers beseeching God not to “hide His face.” Very clearly in Exodus, God tells Moses that “no one may see my face and live.” In the New Testament, there is a clear shift. The accounts of Christ’s transfiguration describe His face as shining. St. Paul speaks of seeing God “in the face of Jesus Christ.” He also speaks of us gazing steadily on Christ “with unveiled faces.” Orthodox Christianity has a very particular understanding of the face, modeled in the holy icons. It is worth some thought and reflection.
In both Latin and Greek, the word translated as “person,” actually refers to the face, or a mask (as a depiction of the face). The face is not only our primary presentation to the world, and our primary means of relationship, it is also, somehow, that which is most definitively identified with our existence as persons. Developmental psychologists say that the face-to-face gazing of mother and child in the act of nursing is an essential building block in the development of personality and the ability to relate to others.
It should be of note that the Holy Icons are always depicted facing us, with some few, turned ever so slightly. Those “turned” faces are found on icons whose placement would have originally been on an iconostasis and are slightly turned so as to be acknowledging the Christ icon. The only figures portrayed in profile are Judas Iscariot and the demons (or those who are fulfilling those roles). In the art of the Renaissance, and subsequent, this treatment of the face disappears. The human figure is simply studied for itself, as art, the relational function of the icon having been forgotten.

The Orthodox understanding of salvation is reflected in this treatment of icons. St. Paul’s description of being transformed as we behold the face of Christ is an expression of true personhood. Our “face” becomes more properly what it should be as we behold the face of Christ. This “looking” is, to a degree, what we today would call a “relationship,” though, I think, it has more insight and import. “Relationship” has become a word that is almost completely vacuous, lacking in substance. I cringe these days when I hear conversations about our “relationship” with God.
With the face, and its implications for personhood, much more can be said. I cannot see the face of another without looking at them. To see your face, I must reveal my face. That face-to-face encounter is pretty much the deepest and oldest experience we have as human beings (first experienced with our mother in nursing). For the whole of our lives, our faces are the primary points of experience and reaction. We cannot truly know the other without encountering them face-to-face.

It is probably significant that art turned away from the face and toward the figure. The language of salvation as “not going to hell” or “going to heaven,” is, strangely, impersonal. The same is true of justification and the like. It easily sounds like a medical procedure, a treatment of the body (or worse).
Similar to the face is the treatment of names. In Revelation, the image of salvation is the giving of a new name. In the Old Testament, this same thing happens to Abram (Abraham) and Jacob (Israel). In their cases, a new name signals a change in them and a change in their status before God. By the same token, it has always struck me as deeply personal and touching that Christ sometimes had nicknames for his disciples: “Peter” (“Rock”) and “Boanerges” for James and John (the “Sons of Thunder”). I suspect there were others. In the Orthodox tradition, a child is named on the eighth day after birth, or, if later, at Baptism. The giving of a name at Baptism is also a very ancient part of Baptism in the West.

Orthodox Baprism in Rwanda (see here)

In these things, we must understand that we are “known.” We are known uniquely and not by reputation or reference. We are not in a category, nor are we the “objects” of God’s love. That we are being changed by beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ suggests that we have to look at him – directly. This is very much part of the meaning of true communion.
Psychologists describe the bonding between mother and child in nursing (and face-to-face) as communion:
Identification begins as a visual process, but quickly becomes an internal imagery process, encompassing visual, auditory, and kinesthetic scenes. It is that universal scene of communion between mother and infant, accomplished through facial gazing in the midst of holding and rocking during breast or bottle feedings, that creates the infant’s sense of oceanic oneness or union. (Psychology of Shame, Kaufman, pg 31)
I was somewhat staggered to find such a theologically compatible statement in a work of technical psychology. Sometimes scientific observation is simply spot-on.
As we grow older, we never again gaze into the eyes of a person as we once did with our mothers. Lovers are often drawn to the eyes of the beloved, and find a measure of communion, but wounds and injuries eventually interrupt the initial innocence of such eyes. The same is at least as true with regard to God.
Regarding the face of God, there is this very telling passage in Revelation:
 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (Rev. 6:16)
It is of note that Revelation does not simply speak of the wrath of the Lamb, nor merely of His presence. It is specifically a fear of His face. Our experience of the face is an experience of nakedness and vulnerability. On the positive side, the result is identification, communion and oneness. On the negative side, it is the pain of shame and the felt need to hide. I can think of nothing else in nature that so closely parallels and reveals the fundamental character of our relationship with God. Salvation is communion. Sin is an enduring shame.
It is into this existential/ontological reality of sin/shame that Christ enters in His Incarnation, suffering and death. The depths of hell are everlasting shame and yet, He doesn’t hesitate to enter there in order to rescue us. Christ’s rescue of Adam and Eve in Hades are a final echo of the encounter in the Garden. They hid in shame, but He came looking for them. Then, He covered them with the skins of animals, but now He covers them in the righteousness of the Lamb who was slain. Then they were expelled from Paradise; now they are restored. Then, they fled from before His face; now they behold Him face to face – and rejoice.
When I pray before the icon of Christ, I notice that His gaze never changes. He does not hide Himself from my shame – but He bids me return my gaze to His. Unashamed, painless. You can find paradise in those eyes!

Orthodox children of Mozambique, with Bishop of Mozambique & the icon of Theotokos (from Mother of God (Virgin Mary), Orthodox Church and African peoples - more about Orthodox Church in Mozambique here)

"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life 

"Partakers of Divine Nature" - About Deification & Uncreated Light in Orthodox Church  
Holy Icons (tag)
St. Symeon the New Theologian's First Vision of Uncreated Glory
Feast & holy icon of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»


Πέμπτη, 12 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Tuareg people & Orthodox Christianity - Orthodox Church

Tuareg lady and cross (from here)
...Following settlement by the Jewish Diaspora and then the preaching of the Gospel, by the second century the area had started to become a centre of Latin-speaking Orthodoxy. Gradually, both Roman settlers and Romanized Berbers became Christian. In this way the region was to produce figures such as the Church writer Tertullian (c 155 - c 202), the martyr St Cyprian of Carthage (+ 258), the Righteous Monica, her son the philosopher Blessed Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (+ 430), the martyr St Julia of Carthage (5th century) and many other saints of God.
Enfeebled by ethnic and social division, weakened by the emigration of their elite and deprived of monastic life, not persecuted as such but nevertheless reduced by Islam to second-class citizens, isolated from the outside world, the Orthodox of the Maghreb were over seven centuries assimilated into the Muslim universe. In about 1400, after 700 years of faithfulness, the lamp of Orthodoxy in North-West Africa went out through lack of oil. It left vestiges only in folklore and language. For example, to this day the Touareg word for 'sacrifice' is 'tafaske', derived from the Latin word for Easter 'Pascha'.
From their tragic history, we can learn various lessons for today:
Firstly, we can learn of the need for Christians of different nationalities to work together in justice, without treating each other as second-class citizens. Whether they are Roman or Berber, Greek or African, Ukrainian or Romanian, Russian or English, they must treat one another as Orthodox Christians, avoiding divisions, putting their Faith, and not their ethnicity, first. (...)

From the article The Last Christians of North-West Africa.

Tuareg Cross Symbology

Katie O Jewelry

 Tuareg cross (from here)
The Taureg cross comes from the nomadic tribes of North Africa and was used as a talisman against the evil eye, and was considered a powerful good luck charm.  It was originally worn by men, and would be given to a boy when he reached puberty.  Traditionally it was given from father to son, where the father would say  “ my son, I give you the four corners of the earth, because no man knows where he will die.”  The number four is usually found engraved on the cross as a symbol of the four directions, north, east, south, and west.  Engravings of the eye of a chameleon and the tracks of the jackal are also poplar symbols, both signs of strength and cunning.  It is unrelated to Christianity.


"...The pastor [our note: a Tuareg who has converted to Protestantism] then showed us the Tuareg cross, which is similar to the Orthodox cross but different in design. He explained that the cross became a tribal symbol centuries before when the Tuareg people were basically Christian. That symbol is widely used today in Tuareg art and architecture. The cross comes from the people’s Roman Catholic heritage [our note: no, but the heritage of the ancient Church = the Orthodox Church], and their language has Phoenician roots. Very interesting...." (from Tuareg - Personal Visit).


Tuareg tribal art focuses on jewellery, leatherwork, metal saddle ornaments, and richly crafted swords. It is a repository of Tuareg heritage and culture, passed down through the female line, and results in exquisite silver jewellery and leather artefacts. Down the generations, Tuareg artisans have preserved the symbolism and cosmology of their environment and have incorporated it into their jewellery. The geometric patterns and designs are integrated into the pieces in a way that results in jewellery that speaks universally from the particular, and has a uniquely aesthetic appeal.
The Tuareg Cross is one such piece. The term 'cross' has been applied by Europeans in an attempt to describe this piece of jewellery, and has no equivalent in the Tamasheq language. Tribal Tuaregs refer to it as Teneghelt from the verb 'enghel' which means to pour, and refers to the 'lost wax' method by which the piece is created. The circle and the cross within the piece combine male and female symbols in union, to create a concrete object of great beauty, and is made of silver, regarded as a noble metal. This heritage is based on an ancient love myth, but it is also given by father to son, at puberty, as a symbolic reminder of the Tuareg nomadic life style, and to help him find his way at times of confusion, distress or difficulty, throughout the four directions of the world (from Tuareg heritage & culture).

Tuareg cross, from here

Muslim Tuareg Cross

Alternative names include African, Agadez, Amazigh and Berber Cross

The term Muslim Cross begs qualification. It is a cross used by some Muslims but does not represent Islam nor the Crucifixion of Jesus. It is one of several different geometric cross patterns used by the Sunni Muslim. Tuareg people of Saharan Africa.
The centre of the cross represents God and since Muslims believe we are one with God, mankind shares that central spot. The four arms of the cross are to keep evil at bay and this cross is worn as a protective amulet. Muslims also believe, of course, that a few grams of shaped metal cannot protect anyone from evil (see Charms); only the love of God can do that. Nevertheless, like prayer beads used in many other religions, this cross is a symbol of one's faith.
The Tuareg are Berber nomads and most now live in Western Africa, principally Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkino Faso and Libya. Given their nomadic traditions, the four arms can also be seen as conduits for spreading love to the four corners of the world, similar to the Christian's Mission Cross.
Generally shunning anything that could become idolatrous, Islam doesn't have many symbols (the Crescent being an obvious exception) consequently Muslims have copied artwork from Christianity giving it their own meaning, just as Christians copied Pagan artwork.
Whilst the Tuareg Cross is not supposed to represent Christianity (nor Islam) it is probably based on the Christian cross. Before the arrival of Islam, Berbers were Christian and very familiar with Christian art. As with the Coptic Cross, the circle at the top of this cross is most likely inherited from the Ankh, where it originally depicted the Sun god.


May the Saints of North-West Africa protect Tuareg people and all the peoples!

Please, see also

The Ancient Christianity (Orthodox Church) in Tunisia
The Last Christians of North-West Africa
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa

"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith  
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life

Tuareg people
The Orthodox Church of Alexandria & the Patriarchate of Alexandria
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)

Early Muslim conquests & Rashidun Caliphate

Δευτέρα, 9 Ιανουαρίου 2017


Tuareg people

From Wikipedia
The Tuareg people (/ˈtwɑːrɛɡ/; also spelled Twareg or Touareg; endonym Kel Tamasheq, Kel Tagelmust[5]) are a large Berber ethnic confederation. They principally inhabit the Sahara desert, in a vast area stretching from far southwestern Libya to southern Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.[5] Traditionally nomadic pastoralists, small groups of Tuareg are also found in northern Nigeria.[6]
The Tuareg speak the Tuareg languages (also known as Tamasheq), which belong to the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.[1]
The Tuaregs have been called the "blue people" for the indigo-dye colored clothes they traditionally wear and which stains their skin.[7][8] A semi-nomadic Muslim people, they are believed to be descendants of the Berber autochthones of North Africa.[9] The Tuaregs have been one of the ethnic groups that have been historically influential in the spread of Islam and its legacy in North Africa and the adjacent Sahel region.[10]
Tuareg society has traditionally featured clan membership, social status and caste hierarchies within each political confederation.[7][11][12] The Tuareg have controlled several trans-Saharan trade routes, and have been an important party to the conflicts in the Saharan region during the colonial and post-colonial era.[7]

Kel Tamasheq
ⴾⴻⵍ ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵙⵂⴻⵈ
Total population
c. 2.5 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
Tuareg languages (Tamasheq, Tamajeq, Tafaghist, Tamahaq, Tawellemmet)
Related ethnic groups
Other Berbers

A Tuareg man in Mali
The origin and the meaning of the name Tuareg have long been debated, with various etymologies hypothesized. It would appear that Twārəg is derived from the broken plural of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa", the Tuareg name of the Libyan region commonly known as Fezzan. Targa in Berber means "(drainage) channel".[13] Another theory is that Tuareg is derived from Tuwariq, the plural of the Arabic exonym Tariqi.[5]
The term for a Tuareg man is Amajagh (variants: Amashegh, Amahagh), the term for a woman Tamajaq (variants: Tamasheq, Tamahaq, Timajaghen). Spellings of the appellation vary by Tuareg dialect. However, they all reflect the same linguistic root, expressing the notion of "freemen". As such, the endonym strictly refers only to the Tuareg nobility, not the artisanal client castes and the slaves.[14] Two other Tuareg self-designations are Kel Tamasheq (Neo-Tifinagh), meaning "speakers of Tamasheq", and Kel Tagelmust, meaning "veiled people" in allusion to the tagelmust garment that is traditionally worn by Tuareg men.[5] The English exonym "Blue People" is similarly derived from the indigo color of the tagelmust veils and other clothing, which sometimes stains the skin underneath.[15] Another term for the Tuareg is Imuhagh or Imushagh, a cognate to the northern Berber self-name Imazighen.[16]

Demography and languages
The traditional distribution of the Tuareg in the Sahara.[5]

The Tuareg today inhabit a vast area in the Sahara, stretching from far southwestern Libya to southern Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.[5] Their combined population in these territories exceeds 2.5 million, with an estimated population in Niger of around 2 million (11% of inhabitants) and in Mali of another 0.5 million (3% of inhabitants.[2][3] The Tuareg are also the majority ethnic group in the Kidal Region of northeastern Mali.[17]
The Tuareg traditionally speak the Tuareg languages, also known as Tamasheq, Tamachen, Tamashekin, Tomacheck and Kidal.[18] These tongues belong to the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.[1] According to Ethnologue, there are an estimated 1.2 million Tuareg speakers. Around half this number consists of speakers of the Eastern dialect (Tamajaq, Tawallammat).[1] The exact number of Tuareg speakers per territory is uncertain. The CIA estimates that the Tuareg population in Mali constitutes approximately 0.9% of the national population (~150,000), whereas about 3.5% of local inhabitants speak Tuareg (Tamacheq) as a primary language.[19] In contrast, Imperato (2008) estimates that the Tuareg represent around 3% of Mali's population.[3]


Early history
Further information: Azawad and Tin hinan
Tin Hinan, ancient Tuareg Queen of the Hoggar (south Algeria).
In antiquity, the Tuareg moved southward from the Tafilalt region into the Sahel under the Tuareg founding queen Tin Hinan, who is believed to have lived between the 4th and 5th century.[20] The matriarch's 1,500 year old monumental tomb is located in the Sahara at Abalessa in the Hoggar Mountains of southern Algeria. Vestiges of an inscription in Tifinagh, the Tuareg's traditional Libyco-Berber writing script, have been found on one of the ancient sepulchre's walls.[21]
External accounts of interaction with the Tuareg are available from at least the 10th century. Ibn Hawkal (10th century), El-Bekri (11th century), Edrisi (12th century), Ibn Batutah (14th century), and Leo Africanus (16th century), all documented the Tuareg in some form, usually as Mulatthamin or “the veiled ones.” Of the early historians, fourteenth century Arab scholar, Ibn Khaldûn probably has some of the most detailed commentary on the life and people of the Sahara, though he apparently never actually met them.[22] Some studies have linked the Tuareg to early ancient Egyptian civilization.[23]

Colonial era

At the turn of the 19th century, the Tuareg territory was organised into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief (Amenokal), along with a counsel of elders from each tribe. These confederations are sometimes called "Drum Groups" after the Amenokal's symbol of authority, a drum. Clan (Tewsit) elders, called Imegharan (wisemen), are chosen to assist the chief of the confederation. Historically, there have been seven major confederations:[citation needed]
In the late 19th century, the Tuareg resisted the French colonial invasion of their Central Saharan homelands. Tuareg broadswords were no match for the more advanced weapons of French troops. After numerous massacres on both sides,[24] the Tuareg were subdued and required to sign treaties in Mali 1905 and Niger 1917. In southern Morocco and Algeria, the French met some of the strongest resistance from the Ahaggar Tuareg. Their Amenokal, traditional chief Moussa ag Amastan, fought numerous battles in defence of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance, and their confederations were largely dismantled and reorganised.

Tuareg in Mali, 1974

Post-colonial era

When African countries achieved widespread independence in the 1960s, the traditional Tuareg territory was divided among a number of modern nations: Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. Competition for resources in the Sahel has since led to conflicts between the Tuareg and neighboring African groups, especially after political disruption following French colonization and independence. There have been tight restrictions placed on nomadization because of high population growth. Desertification is exacerbated by human activity i.e.; exploitation of resources and the increased firewood needs of growing cities. Some Tuareg are therefore experimenting with farming; some have been forced to abandon herding and seek jobs in towns and cities.[25]
In Mali, a Tuareg uprising resurfaced in the Adrar N'Fughas mountains in the 1960s, following Mali's independence. Several Tuareg joined, including some from the Adrar des Iforas in northeastern Mali. The 1960s' rebellion was a fight between a group of Tuareg and the newly independent state of Mali. The Malian Army suppressed the revolt. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising.[25]

Tuareg separatist rebels in Mali, January 2012
This second (or third) uprising was in May 1990. At this time, in the aftermath of a clash between government soldiers and Tuareg outside a prison in Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger, Tuareg in both Mali and Niger claimed autonomy for their traditional homeland: (Ténéré, capital Agadez, in Niger and the Azawad and Kidal regions of Mali). Deadly clashes between Tuareg fighters (with leaders such as Mano Dayak) and the military of both countries followed, with deaths numbering well into the thousands. Negotiations initiated by France and Algeria led to peace agreements (January 11, 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger). Both agreements called for decentralization of national power and guaranteed the integration of Tuareg resistance fighters into the countries' respective national armies.[26]
Major fighting between the Tuareg resistance and government security forces ended after the 1995 and 1996 agreements. As of 2004, sporadic fighting continued in Niger between government forces and Tuareg groups struggling for independence. In 2007, a new surge in violence occurred.[27]
Since the development of Berberism in North Africa in the 1990s, there has also been a Tuareg ethnic revival.[28]
Since 1998, three different flags have been designed to represent the Tuareg.[29] In Niger, the Tuareg people remain diplomatically and economically marginalized, remaining poor and not being represented in Niger's central government.[30]

Further information: Berber mythology
Tuaregs in prayer.
The Tuareg traditionally adhered to the Berber mythology. Archaeological excavations of prehistoric tombs in the Maghreb have yielded skeletal remains that were painted with ochre. Although this ritual practice was known to the Iberomaurusians, the custom seems instead to have been primarily derived from the ensuing Capsian culture.[31] Megalithic tombs, such as the jedar sepulchres, were also erected for religious and funerary purposes. In 1926, one such tomb was discovered south of Casablanca. The monument was engraved with funerary inscriptions in the ancient Libyco-Berber writing script known as Tifinagh, which the Tuareg still use.[32]
During the medieval period, the Tuareg adopted Islam after its arrival with the Umayyad Caliphate in the 7th century.[10] The Tuareg helped spread Islam further into the Western Sudan.[33] Within the various jurisprudence schools of Islam, the Tuareg have belonged to the Maliki school of the Sunni sect.[34]
While Islam is the religion of the contemporary Tuareg, historical documents suggest that they initially resisted the Islamization efforts in their traditional strongholds.[35][36] According to the anthropologist Susan Rasmussen, after the Tuareg had adopted the religion, they were reputedly lax in their prayers and observances of other Muslim precepts. They have also retained elements of pre-Islamic cosmology and rituals, particularly Tuareg women. For example, Tuareg religious ceremonies contain allusions to matrilineal spirits, as well as to fertility, menstruation, the earth and ancestresses.[9] Norris (1976) suggests that this apparent syncretism may stem from the influence of Sufi Muslim preachers on the Tuareg.[10]
The Tuaregs have been one of the influential ethnic groups who have helped spread Islam and its legacy in North Africa and the adjacent Sahel region.[10] Timbuktu, an important Islamic center famed for its ulama, was established by Maghsharan Tuareg at the start of the 12th century.[37] It flourished under the protection and rule of a Tuareg confederation.[38][39] In 1449, a Tuareg ruling house also founded the Tenere Sultanate of Aïr (Sultanate of Agadez) in the city of Agadez in the Aïr Mountains.[16] 18th century Tuareg Islamic scholars, such as Jibril ibn 'Umar, later preached the value of revolutionary jihad. Inspired by these teachings, Ibn 'Umar's student Usman dan Fodio would go on to lead the Fulani jihads and establish the Sokoto Caliphate.[40]


The Tuareg society has traditionally featured clan membership, social status and caste hierarchies within each political confederation.[7]

A Tuareg from Algeria.

Clans have been a historic part of the Tuaregs. The 7th century invasion of North Africa from the Middle East triggered an extensive migration of Tuaregs such as the Lemta and the Zarawa, along with other fellow pastoral Berbers.[9] Further invasions of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym Arab tribes into Tuareg regions in the 11th century moved the Tuareg southward into seven clans, which the oral tradition of Tuaregs claims to be descendants of the same mother.[9][41]
Each Tuareg clan (tawshet) is made up of family groups constituting a tribe,[11] each led by its chief, the amghar. A series of tawsheten (plural of tawshet) may bond together under an Amenokal, forming a Kel clan confederation. Tuareg self-identification is related only to their specific Kel, which means "those of". For example, Kel Dinnig (those of the east), Kel Ataram (those of the west). The position of amghar is hereditary through a matrilineal principle, it is usual for the son of a sister of the incumbent chieftain to succeed to his position. The amenokal is elected in a ritual which differs between groups, the individual amghar who lead the clans making up the confederation usually have the deciding voice.[42] The matrilineal inheritance and mythology among Tuareg clans, states Susan Rasmussen, a cultural vestige from the pre-Islamic era of the Tuareg society.[9]
According to Rasmussen, Tuareg society exhibits a blend of pre-Islamic and Islamic practices.[9] As such, patrilineal Muslim values are believed to have been superimposed upon the Tuareg's traditional matrilineal society. Other, apparently newer customs include the practice of close-cousin endogamous marriages and polygyny in conformity with Islamic tenets. Polygyny, which has been witnessed among Tuareg chiefs and Islamic scholars, is in turn thought to be contrary to the pre-Islamic monogamous tradition of the nomadic Tuareg.[9]

Social stratification

Tuareg society has featured caste hierarchies within each clan and political confederation.[7][11][43] These hierarchical systems have included nobles, clerics, craftsmen and unfree strata of people.[44][45]

Nobility, vassals and clerics
Tuareg man from Algeria.
Traditionally, Tuareg society is hierarchical, with nobility and vassals. The linguist Karl-Gottfried Prasse (1995) indicates that the nobles constitute the highest caste.[46] They are known in the Tuareg language as imúšaɣ (Imajaghan, "the proud and free" in Arabic[7]). The nobles had a monopoly on carrying arms and camels, were the warriors of the Tuareg regions.[47] They may have achieved their social status by subjugating other Tuareg castes, keeping arms to defend their properties and vassals. They have also collected tribute from their vassals. This warror nobility has traditionally married within their caste, not to individuals in strata below their own.[47] A collection of tribes, each led by a noble, forms a confederation called amanokal, whose chieftain is elected from among the nobles by the tribal chiefs.[46][45] The chietain is the overlord during times of war, and receives tribute and taxes from tribes as a sign of their submission to his authority.[48]
The vassal-herdsmen are the second free strata within Tuareg society, occupying a position just below that of the nobles.[49] They are known as ímɣad (Imghad, singular Amghid) in the Tuareg language.[45] Although the vassals were also free, they did not own camels but instead kept donkeys and herds of goats, sheep and oxen. They pastured and tended their own herds as well those owned by the nobles of the confederation.[49] The vassal strata have traditionally paid an annual tiwse, or tribute to the nobles as a part of their status obligations, and also hosted any noble who is traveling through their territory.[50] In late medieval era, states Prasse, this weapon monopoly broke down after regional wars took a heavy toll on the noble warrior strata, and thereafter the vassals carried weapons as well and were recruited as warriors.[50] After the start of the French colonial rule which dislodged the nobles from their powers over war and taxation, the Tuaregs belonging to the noble strata disdained tending cattle and tilling the land, seeking instead warrior or intellectual work.[50]
A semi-noble strata of the Tuareg people has been the endogamous religious clerics, the marabouts (Tuareg: Ineslemen, a loan word that means Muslim in Arabic).[50] After the adoption of Islam, they became integral to the Tuareg social structure.[51] According to Norris (1976), this strata of Muslim clerics has been a sacredotal caste, which propagated Islam in North Africa and the Sahel between the 7th and the 17th centuries.[10] Adherence to the faith was initially centered around this caste, but later spread to the wider Tuareg community.[52] The marabouts have traditionally been the judges (qadi) and religious leaders (imam) of a Tuareg community.[50]

A man from the peasant caste of the Tuareg near Tahoua, Niger.

According to the anthropologist Jeffrey Heath, Tuareg artisans belong to separate endogamous castes known as the Inhædˤæn (Inadan).[45][53] These have included the blacksmith, jewelers, wood workers and leather artisan castes.[45] They produced and repaired the saddles, tools, household items and other items for the Tuareg community. In Niger and Mali, where the largest Tuareg populations are found, the artisan castes were attached as clients to a family of nobles or vassals, and carried messages over distances for their patron family. They also are the ones who traditionally sacrifice animals during Islamic festivals.[53]
These social strata, like caste systems found in many parts of West Africa, included singers, musicians and story tellers of the Tuareg, who kept their oral traditions.[54] They are called Agguta by Tuareg, have been called upon to sing during ceremonies such as weddings or funerals.[55] The origins of the artisanal castes are unclear. One theory posits a Jewish derivation, a proposal that Prasse calls "a much vexed question".[53] Their association with fire, iron and precious metals and their reputation for being cunning tradesman has led others to treat them with a mix of admiration and distrust.[53]
According to Rasmussen, the Tuareg castes are not only hierarchical, as each caste differs in mutual perception, food and eating behaviors. For example, she relates an explanation by a smith on why there is endogamy among Tuareg castes in Niger. The smith explained, "nobles are like rice, smiths are like millet, slaves are like corn."[56]
In the Tuareg area's of Algeria, a distinct tenant-peasant strata lives around oases known as izeggaghan (or hartani in Arabic).[57] Traditionally, these local peasants were subservient to the warrior nobles who owned the oasis and the land. The peasants tilled these fields, whose output they gave to the nobles after keeping a fifth part of the produce.[57] Their Tuareg patrons were usually responsible for supplying agricultural tools, seed and clothing. The peasants' origins are also unclear. One theory postulates that they are descendants of ancient people who lived in the Sahara before they were dominated by invading groups. Some speak a Songhay dialect along with Tuareg and Arabic. In contemporary times, these peasant strata have blended in with freed black slaves and farm arable lands together.[57]


The Ikelan or Bellah constitute the historic slave strata within Tuareg society.[58]

The Tuareg confederations acquired slaves as well as tribute paying states by conducting raids on communities to their south in West Africa.[7] They also secured captives as war booty or purchased slaves in markets.[59] The slaves or servile communities are locally called Ikelan (or Iklan, Eklan), and slavery was inherited, with the descendants of the slaves known as irewelen.[7][53]
According to the ethnographer Johannes Nicolaisen (1963), the Ikelan are of assimilated Nilotic origin rather than of Berber heritage like the ethnic Tuareg. They often live in communities separated from other castes. The Ikelan's Nilotic extraction is denoted via the Ahaggar Berber word Ibenheren (sing. Ébenher), which alludes to slaves that only speak a Nilo-Saharan language. The slaves of the Tuareg were generally of Negroid heritage and were captured during raids.[60]
The word ikelan itself means "to be black",[61] an allusion to most of the slaves.[59] In the post-colonial literature, the alternate terms for Ikelan include "Bellah-iklan" or just "Bellah" derived from a Songhay word.[58][62]
According to the historian Starratt (1981), the Tuareg evolved a system of slavery that was highly differentiated. They established strata among their slaves, which determined rules as to the slave's expected behavior, marriageability, inheritance rights if any, and occupation.[63] The Ikelan later became a bonded caste within Tuareg society, and they now speak the same Tamasheq language as the Tuareg nobles and share many customs.[60] According to Heath, the Bella in the Tuareg society were the slave caste whose occupation was rearing and herding livestock such as sheep and goats.[45]
When French colonial governments were established, they stopped acquisition of new slaves and slave trading in markets, but they did not remove or free domestic slaves from the Tuareg owners who had acquired their slaves before the French rule started.[64][65] In the Tuareg society, like with many other ethnic groups in West Africa, slave status was inherited, and the upper strata used slave children for domestic work, at camps and as a dowry gift of servants to the newly weds.[66][67][68]
According to Bernus (1972), Brusberg (1985) and Mortimore (1972), French colonial interests in the Tuareg region were primarily economic, with no intention of ending the slave-owning institution.[69] The historian Klein (1998) states instead that, although French colonial rule indeed did not end domestic slavery within Tuareg society, the French reportedly attempted to impress upon the nobles the equality of the Imrad and Bella and to encourage the slaves to claim their rights.[70] He suggests that there was a large scale attempt by French West African authorities to liberate slaves and other bonded castes in Tuareg areas following the 1914–1916 Firouan revolt.[71] Despite this, French officials following the Second World War reported that there were some 50,000 "Bella" under direct control of Tuareg masters in the Gao–Timbuktu areas of French Soudan alone.[72] This was at least four decades after French declarations of mass freedom had happened in other areas of the colony. In 1946, a series of mass desertions of Tuareg slaves and bonded communities began in Nioro and later in Menaka, quickly spreading along the Niger River valley.[73] In the first decade of the 20th century, French administrators in southern Tuareg areas of the French Sudan estimated that "free" to "servile" groups within Tuareg society existed at ratios of 1 to 8 or 9.[74] At the same time, the servile "rimaibe" population of the Masina Fulbe, roughly equivalent to the Bella, constituted between 70% to 80% of the Fulbe population, while servile Songhay groups around Gao made up some 2/3 to 3/4 of the total Songhay population.[74] Klein concludes that approximately 50% of the population of French Soudan at the beginning of the 20th century was in some servile or slave relationship.[74]
While post-independence states have sought to outlaw slavery, results have been mixed. Certain Tuareg communities still uphold the institution.[75] Traditional caste relationships have continued in many places, including slaveholding.[76][77] In Niger, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, according to the ABC News, almost 8% of the population are still enslaved.[78] In the country of Mali, states The Washington Post, many slaves held by the Tuareg were liberated during 2013-14 when French troops intervened on behalf of the Malian government against Islamic radicals with whom the Tuareg were allied during their attempt at secession.[79][80]

A Tuareg blacksmith.

The Tuareg social stratification involving noble, clerical and artisanal castes likely emerged after the 10th century, as a corollary of the rising slavery system.[81] Similar caste institutions are found among various other communities in Africa.[82] According to the anthropologist Tal Tamari, linguistic evidence suggests that the Tuareg blacksmith and bard endogamous castes evolved under foreign contact with Sudanic peoples since the Tuareg terms for blacksmith and bard are of non-Berber origin.[83] Correspondingly, the designation for the endogamous blackmiths among the southern Tuareg is gargassa (a cognate of the Songhay garaasa and Fulani garkasaa6e), whereas it is enaden among the northern Tuareg (meaning "the other").[84]
Archaeological work by Rod McIntosh and Susan Keech McIntosh indicates that long-distance trade and specialized economies existed in the Western Sudan at an early date. During the 9th and 10th centuries, Berbers and Arabs built upon these pre-existing trade routes and quickly developed trans-Saharan and sub-Saharan transport networks. The successive local Muslim kingdoms developed increasing sophistication as states, their martial capacity, slave raiding, holding and trading systems. Among these Islamic states were the Ghana Empire (11th century), the Mali Empire (13th and 14th centuries), and the Songhay Empire (16th century).[81] Slavery created a template for servile relationships, which developed into more complex castes and social stratification.[85]

Further information: Matrilineality § Tuareg
Tuareg nomads in southern Algeria.
Tuareg culture is largely matrilineal.[86][87][88] Tuareg women have high status compared with their Arab counterparts (see matrilineality). Other distinctive aspects of Tuareg culture include clothing, food, language, religion, arts, astronomy, nomadic architecture, traditional weapons, music, films, games, and economic activities.


In Tuareg society women do not traditionally wear the veil, whereas men do.[86][88] The most famous Tuareg symbol is the Tagelmust (also called éghéwed), referred to as a Cheche (pronounced "Shesh"), an often indigo blue-colored veil called Alasho. The men's facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits. It may have related instrumentally from the need for protection from the harsh desert sands as well. It is a firmly established tradition, as is the wearing of amulets containing sacred objects and, recently, verses from the Qur'an. Taking on the veil is associated with the rite of passage to manhood; men begin wearing a veil when they reach maturity. The veil usually conceals their face, excluding their eyes and the top of the nose.

Tuareg woman in traditional garb.
Tuareg woman with face veil.
The Tuareg are sometimes called the "Blue People" because the indigo pigment in the cloth of their traditional robes and turbans stained their skin dark blue.[15] The traditional indigo turban is still preferred for celebrations, and generally Tuareg wear clothing and turbans in a variety of colors.


Taguella is a flat bread made from wheat flour and cooked on under charcoal fire, the flat disk-shaped bread is buried under the hot sand. Then the bread is broke up into small pieces and eaten mixed with a meat sauce. Millet porridge called a cink or a liwa is a staple much like ugali and fufu. Millet is boiled with water to make a pap and eaten with milk or a heavy sauce. Common dairy foods are goat's and camel's milk called akh, as well as cheese ta komart and Tona a thick yogurt made from them. Eghajira is a beer-like beverage drunk with a ladle. It is made by pounding millet, goat cheese, dates, milk and sugar and is served on festivals. A popular tea called "atai" or "ashahi" is made from Gunpowder Green Tea mixed with sugar. After steeping, it is poured three times in and out of the tea pot over the tea, mint and sugar and served by pouring from a height of over a foot into small tea glasses with a froth on top.

Main article: Tuareg languages

The Tuareg natively speak the Tuareg languages. A dialect cluster, it belongs to the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Tuareg is known as Tamasheq by western Tuareg in Mali, as Tamahaq among Algerian and Libyan Tuareg, and as Tamajeq in the Azawagh and Aïr regions of Niger.
French missionary Charles de Foucauld compiled a dictionary of the Tuareg.[89]

A Tuareg husband and wife wearing traditional jewelry.
Much Tuareg art is in the form of jewellery, leather and metal saddle decorations called trik, and finely crafted swords. The Inadan community makes traditional handicrafts. Among their products are tanaghilt or zakkat (the 'Agadez Cross' or 'Croix d'Agadez'); the Tuareg sword (Takoba), many gold and silver-made necklaces called 'Takaza'; and earrings called 'Tizabaten'. Pilgrimage boxes have intricate iron and brass decorations, and are used for carrying items.


The clear desert skies allowed the Tuareg to be keen observers. Tuareg celestial objects include:
  • Azzag Willi (Venus), which indicates the time for milking the goats
  • Shet Ahad (Pleiades), the seven sisters of the night
  • Amanar (Orion), the warrior of the desert
  • Talemt (Ursa Major), the she-camel wakes up
  • Awara (Ursa Minor), the baby camel goes to sleep

Nomadic architecture

While living quarters are progressively changing to adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle, Tuareg groups are well known for their nomadic architecture (tents). There are several documented styles, some covered with animal skin, some with mats. The style tends to vary by location or subgroup.[90] The tent is traditionally constructed for the first time during the marriage ceremony and is considered an extension of the union, to the extent that the phrase "making a tent” is a metaphor for becoming married.[91] Because the tent is considered to be under the ownership of a married woman, sedentary dwellings generally belong to men, reflecting a patriarchal shift in power dynamics. Current documentation suggests a negotiation of common practice in which a woman's tent is set up in the courtyard of her husband's house.[92] It has been suggested that the traditional tent construction and arrangement of living space within it represent a microcosm of the greater world as an aide in the organization of lived experiences[91] so much so that movement away from the tent can cause changes in character for both men and women as its stabilizing force becomes faint.[93]
An old legend says the Tuareg once lived in grottoes, akazam, and they lived in foliage beds on the top acacia trees, tasagesaget. Other kinds of traditional housing include: ahaket (Tuareg goatskin red tent), tafala (a shade made of millet sticks), akarban also called takabart (temporary hut for winter), ategham (summer hut), taghazamt (adobe house for long stay), and ahaket (a dome-shaped house made of mats for the dry season and square shaped roof with holes to prevent hot air).

Traditional weapons
  • takoba: 1 meter long straight sword
  • allagh: 2 meter long lance
  • agher: 1.50 meter high shield
  • tagheda: small and sharp assegai
  • taganze: leather covered-wooden bow
  • amur: wooden arrow
  • sheru: long dagger
  • tellak: short dagger kept in a sheath attached to the left forearm.
  • taburek: wooden stick
  • alakkud or abartak: riding crop
In 2007, Stanford's Cantor Arts Center opened an exhibition, "Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World", the first such exhibit in the United States. It was curated by Tom Seligman, director of the center. He had first spent time with the Tuareg in 1971 when he traveled through the Sahara after serving in the Peace Corps. The exhibition included crafted and adorned functional objects such as camel saddles, tents, bags, swords, amulets, cushions, dresses, earrings, spoons and drums.[94] The exhibition also was shown at the University of California, Los Angeles Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.
Throughout history, the Tuareg were renowned and respected warriors. Their decline as a military might came with the introduction of firearms, weapons which the Tuareg did not possess. The Tuareg warrior equipment consisted of a takoba (sword), allagh (lance) and aghar (shield) made of antelope's skin.

Further information: Berber music

Traditional Tuareg music has two major components: the monochord violin anzad played often during night parties and a small tambour covered with goatskin called tende, performed during camel and horse races, and other festivities. Traditional songs called Asak and Tisiway (poems) are sung by women and men during feasts and social occasions. Another popular Tuareg musical genre is takamba, characteristic for its Afro percussions.

Vocal music
  • tisiway: poems
  • tasikisikit: songs performed by women, accompanied by tende (drum); the men, on camel-back, circle the women as they sing.
  • asak: songs accompanied by anzad monocord violin.
  • tahengemmit: slow songs sung by elder men
Tinariwen (Tuareg band) from Mali, taken at the Nice Jazz Festival in France
Children and youth music

Tuareg singer Athmane Bali from Djanet, Algeria
  • Bellulla songs made by children playing with the lips
  • Fadangama small monocord instrument for children
  • Odili flute made from trunk of sorghum
  • Gidga small wooden instrument with irons sticks to make strident sounds
  • tagest: dance made while seated, moving the head, the hands and the shoulders.
  • ewegh: strong dance performed by men, in couples and groups.
  • agabas: dance for modern ishumar guitars: women and men in groups.
In the 1980s rebel fighters founded Tinariwen, a Tuareg band that fuses electric guitars and indigenous musical styles. Tinariwen is one of the best known and authentic Tuareg bands. Especially in areas that were cut off during the Tuareg rebellion (e.g., Adrar des Iforas), they were practically the only music available, which made them locally famous and their songs/lyrics (e.g. Abaraybone, ...) are well known by the locals. They released their first CD in 2000, and toured in Europe and the United States in 2004. Tuareg guitar groups that followed in their path include Group Inerane and Group Bombino. The Niger-based band Etran Finatawa combines Tuareg and Wodaabe members, playing a combination of traditional instruments and electric guitars.
Many music groups emerged after the 1980s cultural revival. Among the Tartit, Imaran and known artists are: Abdallah Oumbadougou from Ayr, Baly Othmany of Djanet.

Music genres, groups and artists

Traditional music
  • Majila Ag Khamed Ahmad, singer Asak (vocal music), of Aduk, Niger
  • Almuntaha female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger
  • Ajju female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Agadez, Niger
  • Islaman singer, genre Asak (vocal music), of Abalagh, Niger
  • Tambatan singer, genre Asak (vocal music), Tchin-Tabaraden, Niger
  • Alghadawiat female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Akoubounou, Niger
  • Taghdu female Anzad (Tuareg violin) player, of Aduk, Niger
Ishumar music or Teshumara music style
  • In Tayaden singer and guitar player, Adagh
  • Abareybon singer and guitar player, Tinariwen group, Adagh
  • Kiddu Ag Hossad singer and guitar player, Adagh
  • Baly Othmani singer, luth player, Djanet, Azjar
  • Abdalla Ag Umbadugu, singer, Takrist N'Akal group, Ayr
  • Hasso Ag Akotey, singer, Ayr
World Music

Music and culture festivals
Tuareg celebration in Sbiba. Most of the men are wielding the takouba, the Tuareg sword.
Tuaregs at the January 2012 Festival au Désert in Timbuktu, just before the MNLA launched the Azawadi rebellion later in the same month.
The Desert Festival in Mali's Timbuktu provides one opportunity to see Tuareg culture and dance and hear their music. Other festivals include:


The first Tuareg feature film, Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazoughai, is being released in 2014 and stars the musician Mdou Moctar.[95][96][97][98]


Tuareg traditional games and plays include:
  • Tiddas, played with small stones and sticks.
  • Kelmutan: consists of singing and touching each person's leg, where the ends, that person is out: the last person loses the game.
  • Temse: comic game try to make the other team laugh and you win.
  • Izagag, played with small stones or dried fruits.
  • Iswa, played by picking up stones while throwing another stone.
  • Melghas, children hide themselves and another tries to find and touch them before they reach the well and drink.
  • Tabillant, traditional Tuareg wrestling
  • Alamom, wrestling while running
  • Solagh, another type of wrestling
  • Tammazaga or Tammalagha, race on camel back
  • Takket, singing and playing all night.
  • Sellenduq one person to be a jackal and try to touch the others who escape running (tag).
  • Takadant, children try to imagine what the others are thinking.
  • Tabakoni: clown with a goatskin mask to amuse children.
  • Abarad Iqquran: small dressed wooden puppet that tells stories and makes people laugh.
  • Maja Gel Gel: one person tries to touch all people standing, to avoid this sit down.
  • Bellus: everyone runs not to be touched by the one who plays (tag).
  • Tamammalt: pass a burning stick, when its blown off in ones hands tells who's the lover.
  • Ideblan: game with girls, prepare food and go search for water and milk and fruits.
  • Seqqetu: play with girls to learn how to build tents, look after babies made of clay.
  • Mifa Mifa: beauty contest, girls and boys best dressed.
  • Taghmart: children pass from house to house singing to get presents: dates, sugar, etc.
  • Melan Melan: try to find a riddle
  • Tawaya: play with the round fruit calotropis or a piece of cloth.
  • Abanaban: try to find people while eyes are shut. (blind man's bluff)
  • Shishagheren, writing the name of one's lover to see if this person brings good luck.
  • Taqqanen, telling devinettes and enigmas.
  • Maru Maru, young people mime how the tribe works.

Tuareg selling crafts to tourists in the Hoggar (Algeria)

Tuareg are distinguished in their native language as the Imouhar, meaning the free people; the overlap of meaning has increased local cultural nationalism. Many Tuareg today are either settled agriculturalists or nomadic cattle breeders, though there are also blacksmiths and caravan leaders. The Tuareg are a pastoral people, having an economy based on livestock breeding, trading, and agriculture.[99]
Caravan Trade
Since Prehistoric times Tuareg peoples: the Garamantes have been organising caravans for trading across the Sahara desert. The caravan in Niger from around Agadez to Fachi and Bilma is called in Tamashek: Tarakaft or Taghlamt and the one in Mali from Timbuktu to Taoudenni Azalay.
These caravans used first oxen, horses and later camels as a means of transportation, here different types of caravans:
  • caravans transporting food: dates, millet, dried meat, dried Tuareg cheese, butter etc.
  • caravans transporting garments, alasho indigo turbans, leather products, ostrich feathers,
  • caravans transporting salt: salt caravans used for exchange against other products.
  • caravans transporting nothing but made to sell and buy camels.
Salt mines or salines in the desert.
Tuareg men in Niger

A contemporary variant is occurring in northern Niger, in a traditionally Tuareg territory that comprises most of the uranium-rich land of the country. The central government in Niamey has shown itself unwilling to cede control of the highly profitable mining to indigenous clans.[citation needed] The Tuareg are determined not to relinquish the prospect of substantial economic benefit. The French government has independently tried to defend a French firm, Areva, established in Niger for fifty years and now mining the massive Imouraren deposit.[citation needed]
Additional complaints against Areva are that it is: "...plundering...the natural resources and [draining] the fossil deposits. It is undoubtedly an ecological catastrophe".[100] These mines yield uranium ores, which are then processed to produce yellowcake, crucial to the nuclear power industry (as well as aspirational nuclear powers). In 2007, some Tuareg people in Niger allied themselves with the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a rebel group operating in the north of the country. During 2004–2007, U.S. Special Forces teams trained Tuareg units of the Nigerien Army in the Sahel region as part of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. Some of these trainees are reported to have fought in the 2007 rebellion within the MNJ. The goal of these Tuareg appears to be economic and political control of ancestral lands, rather than operating from religious and political ideologies.[citation needed]
Despite the Sahara's erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns, the Tuareg have managed to survive in the hostile desert environment for centuries. Over recent years however, depletion of water by the uranium exploitation process combined with the effects of climate change are threatening their ability to subsist. Uranium mining has diminished and degraded Tuareg grazing lands. Not only does the mining industry produce radioactive waste that can contaminate crucial sources of ground water resulting in cancer, stillbirths, and genetic defects but it also uses up huge quantities of water in a region where water is already scarce. This is exacerbated by the increased rate of desertification thought to be the result of global warming. Lack of water forces the Tuareg to compete with southern farming communities for scarce resources and this has led to tensions and clashes between these communities. The precise levels of environmental and social impact of the mining industry have proved difficult to monitor due to governmental obstruction.

In popular culture
  • The Tuareg are the antagonists of the French Foreign Legion in Percival Christopher Wren's 1924 adventure novel Beau Geste and the films that were based on it.
  • The Tuareg are allies of the European-American protagonists in the 1930 boys' novel Desert Wings by Covington Clarke (pen name of Homer Clarke Venable).
  • Spanish author Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa's novel Tuareg (1980) was his most critically and commercially successful, with global sales in excess of 5,000,000 copies. It was adapted into a 1984 movie starring Mark Harmon, Tuareg – The Desert Warrior.
  • The 2005 film Sahara featured a fictionalised group of Tuareg as a faction in a civil war underway in Mali.
  • Bruce Sterling used a fictionalised Tuareg tribe in his novel Islands in the Net.
  • David W. Ball's 1999 novel Empires of Sand tells the story of French and Tuareg cousins, depicting life among the Hoggar Tuareg.
  • French author J. M. G. Le Clézio's novel Desert tells of the last days of the Tuareg, the desert nomads known as the "Blue People".
  • In 2003 Volkswagen introduced a new SUV named the Touareg.
  • In the video game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, Tuareg are available to the player as mercenary troops.
  • In the tabletop wargame Infinity players can field Tuareg units as scouts and infiltrators.
  • Tuareg characters feature in episodes of the third season of the Cinemax series Strike Back.
  • Emacs has a Tuareg-mode for editing OCaml files based on the pun, Caml and camel.[101]
  • Omara "Bombino" Moctar is an internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger.
  • The Barclaycard advert from 1991, with Rowan Atkinson as MI6 agent Latham and his assistant Bough, is set in Saharan Africa and features the Tuareg people. Latham considers himself knowledgeable on ancient Tuareg culture, and rejects modern day payment card transactions and the accompanying insurance. He attempts to converse in Tuareg while negotiating for the purchase of a valuable rug in a market stall. Humorously, as he leaves the premises with the rolled-up rug balanced over one shoulder, the end swings over an open flame behind him causing it to set alight and, unaware of this, he walks away believing he is smelling Tuareg campfires.
  • They were also mentioned in the Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders episode Citizens of the World.
Notable Tuareg

Y-chromosome DNA

Y-Dna haplogroups, passed on exclusively through the paternal line, were found at the following frequencies in Tuaregs:

Population Nb A/B E1b1a E-M35 E-M78 E-M81 E-M123 F K-M9 G I J1 J2 R1a R1b Other Study
Tuareg (Libya) 47 0 43% 0 0 49% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6% 2% Ottoni et al. (2011)[102]
Al Awaynat Tuareg (Libya) 47 0 50% 0 0 39% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8% 3% Ottoni et al. (2011)[102]
Tahala Tuareg (Libya) 47 0 11% 0 0 89% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Ottoni et al. (2011)[102]
Tuareg (Mali) 11 0 9.1% 0 9.1% 81.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Pereira et al. (2011)[103]
Tuareg (Burkina Faso) 18 0 16.7% 0 0 77.8% 0 0 5.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Pereira et al. (2011)
Tuareg (Niger) 18 5.6% 44.4% 0 5.6% 11.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 33.3% 0 Pereira et al. (2011)

E1b1b is the most common paternal haplogroup among the Tuareg. Most belong to its E1b1b1b (E-M81) subclade, which is colloquially referred to as the Berber marker due to its prevalence among Mozabite, Middle Atlas, Kabyle and other Berber groups. It reaches frequencies of up to 100 percent in some parts of the Maghreb, and is dominated by its sub-clade E-M183. The clade is thought to have originated in North Africa around 14200 years ago.[104] Its parent haplogroup E1b1b is associated with Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations, and is believed to have arisen in the Horn of Africa.[105][106]
Besides E1b1b, Pereira et al. (2011) and Ottoni et al. (2011) observed that certain Tuareg inhabiting Niger and Libya carry the E1b1a haplogroup (see table above). This clade is today primarily found among Niger-Congo-speaking populations, which suggests that some Tuareg tribes in parts of Libya and Niger may have assimilated many persons of West African origin into their communities.[102][103] To wit, around 50% of individuals among the Al Awaynat Tuareg in Libya are E1b1a carriers compared to only 11% of the adjacent Tahala Tuareg. 89% of the Tahala belong instead to the E1b1b Tuareg founding lineage.[102]


According to mtDNA analysis by Ottoni et al. (2010), the Tuareg inhabiting the Fezzan region in Libya predominantly carry the H1 haplogroup (61%). This is the highest global frequency found so far of the maternal clade. The haplogroup peaks among Berber populations, and is thought to have arrived from the Iberian Peninsula during the Holocene. The remaining Libyan Tuareg mainly belong to two other West Eurasian mtDNA lineages, M1 and V.[107] M1 is today most common among other Afro-Asiatic speakers inhabiting East Africa, and is believed to have arrived on the continent along with the U6 haplogroup around 40,000 years ago.[108]
Pereira et al. (2010) observed greater matrilineal heterogeneity among the Tuareg inhabiting more southerly areas in the Sahel. The Tuareg in the Gossi environs in Mali largely bear the H1 haplogroup (52%), with the M1 lineage (19%) and various Sub-Saharan L2 subclades (19%) next most common. Similarly, most of the Tuareg inhabiting Gorom-Gorom in Burkina Faso carry the H1 haplogroup (24%), followed by various L2 subclades (24%), the V lineage (21%), and haplogroup M1 (18%). The Tuareg in the vicinity of Tanout in Maradi Region and westward to villages of Loube and Djibale in Tahoua Region in Niger are different from the other Tuareg populations in that a majority carry Sub-Saharan mtDNA lineages. In fact, the name for these mixed blood Tuareg-Haussa people is "Djibalawaa" named after the village of Djibale in Bouza Department, Tahoua Region of Niger. This points to significant assimilation of local West African females into this community. The most common maternal haplogroups found among the Tanout Tuareg are various L2 subclades (39%), followed by L3 (26%), various L1 sublineages (13%), V (10%), H1 (3%), M1 (3%), U3a (3%), and L0a1a (3%).[108]


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  • Arredi B, Poloni ES, Paracchini S, Zerjal T, Fathallah DM, Makrelouf M, Pascali VL, Novelletto A, Tyler-Smith C (2004). "A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in North Africa". Am J Hum Genet. 75 (2): 338–345. doi:10.1086/423147. PMC 1216069Freely accessible. PMID 15202071.

  • Ottoni (2010). "Mitochondria Haplogroup H1 in North Africa: An Early Holocene Arrival from Iberia". PLoS ONE. 5 (10): e13378. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013378.

    1. Luísa Pereira; Viktor Černý; María Cerezo; Nuno M Silva; Martin Hájek; Alžběta Vašíková; Martina Kujanová; Radim Brdička; Antonio Salas (17 March 2010). "Linking the sub-Saharan and West Eurasian gene pools: maternal and paternal heritage of the Tuareg nomads from the African Sahel". European Journal of Human Genetics. 18: 915–923. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.21. PMC 2987384Freely accessible. PMID 20234393.
    • Karl G. Prasse (1995). The Tuaregs: The Blue People. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 978-87-7289-313-6.
    • Karl Prasse; Ghoubeid Alojaly; Ghabdouane Mohamed (2003). Dictionnaire touareg-français. Copenhague, Museum Tusculanum. ISBN 87-7289-844-5.
    • Francis James Rennell Rodd, People of the veil. Being an account of the habits, organisation and history of the wandering Tuareg tribes which inhabit the mountains of Aïr or Asben in the Central Sahara, London, MacMillan & Co., 1926 (repr. Oosterhout, N.B., Anthropological Publications, 1966)
    • Heath Jeffrey 2005: A Grammar of Tamashek (Tuareg of Mali). New York: Mouton de Gruyer. Mouton Grammar Library, 35. ISBN 3-11-018484-2
    • Hourst, Lieutenant (1898) (translated from the French by Mrs. Arthur Bell) French Enterprise in Africa: The Exploration of the Niger. Chapman Hall, London.
    • Rando et al. (1998) "Mitochondrial DNA analysis of northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, near-eastern, and sub-Saharan populations". Annals of Human Genetics 62(6): 531-50; Watson et al. (1996) mtDNA sequence diversity in Africa. American Journal of Human Genetics 59(2): 437–44; Salas et al. (2002) "The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape". American Journal of Human Genetics 71: 1082–1111. These are good sources for information on the genetic heritage of the Tuareg and their relatedness to other populations.
    Further reading
    • Edmond Bernus, "Les Touareg", pp. 162–171 in Vallées du Niger, Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993.
    • Andre Bourgeot, Les Sociétés Touarègues, Nomadisme, Identité, Résistances, Paris: Karthala, 1995.
    • Hélène Claudot-Hawad, ed., "Touregs: Exil et Résistance". Révue du Monde Musulman et de la Méiterranée, No. 57, Aix-en-Provence: Edisud, 1991.
    • Claudot-Hawad, Touaregs, Portrait en Fragments, Aix-en-Provence: Edisud, 1993.
    • Hélène Claudot-Hawad and Hawad, "Touaregs: Voix Solitaires sous l'Horizon Confisque", Ethnies-Documents No. 20-21, Hiver, 1996.
    • Mano Dayak, Touareg: La Tragedie, Paris: Éditions Lattes, 1992.
    • Sylvie Ramir, Les Pistes de l'Oubli: Touaregs au Niger, Paris: éditions du Felin, 1991.
    External links