Posts Tagged With: Arabic

Nara au Sahel

Nara Main Street On A Week Day

The city Nara is situated at a distance of approximately 380 km North from the capital of Mali Bamako. Nara could be reached within a days travel, if lucky, which meant if there were no incidents like broken axles and several flat tires. In a worst case scenario it meant an overnight stay in the bush.

Nara is situated in a region called ” The Sahel “.

For centuries, the Sahel boasted some of Africa’s most influential civilizations. A narrow band of semi-arid land south of the Sahara, the Sahel attracted both Arab people in search for gold from the Sudan as well as Europeans looking for slaves from West Africa. The two influences merged with native cultures and traditions, creating a culturally complex and fascinating area. The Sahel is widely French-speaking and Islamic. The name Sahel comes from the Arabic language and means “shore”. Villages like Tombouctou, Djenne and Koumbi Saleh are famous today by historians and Trans Africa travelers.

Today the region is one of the poorest and environmentally most damaged in the world. The advance of desertification in large areas and the transformation from Sahel regions into “Sahara like” environments has seen the arrival and departure of many development projects and programmes.

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Nara, The Fire

When I applied for a position with an  International Organizations in the 1990’s, I applied for a job vacancy in the South of Namibia. I wanted to help disabled children and children with learning abilities to develop their potential.

I had grown up  and been living in Namibia for several years. I spoke three of the local languages, Africans and English as well. I was very young then, but I thought I had what it takes to assist at least some of the Namibian population to have a better life. I definitely had passion and a deep love for the African continent.  A very deep love. Still today I do not want to live in any other place.

I was invited for a job interview in Berlin, Germany. I did well and was asked if I would go to Tanzania instead. I said yes, wondering why, and thinking I have to speak to my boyfriend first. He never wanted leave Europe, where I was living since a year and a half. But I did. I was home-sick.

I said yes, when asked. After three days of  being assessed by the Development and Donor Organization I was judged suitable and capable for work in Africa. I went home in an overnight train. Riding the whole night, while I heard the noise the wheels made on rails, I thought: Will I like Tanzania ?  Will he ? I did not sleep. He bought a map for Tanzania when I was home with him.

Two days later I got a job offer for Nara, in Mali. Nara is in the Sahel. French is spoken. My French was mediocre at the time. I was a child of the South of Africa. But I was home-sick and I said yes again to Nara.

I was told later by some of the elders of Nara:  Nara comes from Noara and is an Arab name. There goes the saying that the first woman ever to settle in that region, was called Noara. A woman of beauty and strength. A stubborn woman. The village Nara was named after her. Nobody knows if this is really true. It is just a saying.

And Nara means THE FIRE as well. Nara is the fire and the heat of the Sahel.

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