A Nomad in Two Worlds
Ahmed Kemil, a young Tuareg man from northern Niger, has written a deeply personal and sensuous account of growing up as a camel herder in the Sahara. The book is written in English, which will be much appreciated by those who do not read French, since much of the literature on Tuaregs is in French. He writes about the practical concerns of nomads caring for their precious livestock. Tuareg nomads love their camels, and the camels also love their Tuaregs; they are like members of the family. Each camel has a history and a name. Ahmed gives us very detailed insights into the concerns of pastoralists, their ongoing quest for water and pasture, and their understanding of the harsh terrain and the erratic weather. He talks about his joys and his fears, including his experiences in a bush school, dealing with extreme thirst and pain, the ravages of flooding and drought, and his tragic accident at the age of seven. He also talks about the connectivity between camps of nomads, information sharing, and their community interdependency and reciprocity that enables them to survive. The book is filled with personal stories of Ahmed’s life as a nomad, including the second part of the book where he makes comparisons with his experiences in the U.S.
-- Dr. Barbara A. Worley, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Boston