Posts Tagged With: History

An Azawakh Named Alaska In The Sahel

Azawakh Alaska as a puppy

I had to dogs in Nara. Both were indigenous African dogs.

One of them was a male Azawakh.  I had received him as a puppy as a gift from a man in one of the villages we worked with.  His skin was of a beautiful unusual white golden color, that reminded me of snow, when he was young. I named him Alaska because of that.

The Azawakh is an indigenous African dog found in the Sahel and in the regions of the Southern Sahara. Azawakhs have evolved and adapted to the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Sahel over hundreds and hundreds of years. Due to the isolation of the Sahel and Southern Sahara regions an amazing and beautiful species developed. They are true desert dogs and capable of supporting extreme heat. Azawakhs have long legs, very slim, elegant and lean bodies and a relatively short back. They can run fast and for long distances.

Traditionally they were trained as guardians and herders for the cattle of the people of the Sahel and they are excellent hunters as well.  Hunting is in their blood. A troop of several hundred cattle accompanied by four or five Azawakhs and their nomad masters is a very beautiful and memorable sight.

Alaska playing with a kitten in the house

Alaska was soon known all over town, not only because of his name but because he followed me everywhere.

Of course I was asked what his name meant. After my explanation, the continent of Alaska became even a discussion topic in Nara including the Bar Kouame. Many were fascinated by the fact, unheard before, that there was a region on our planet as isolated and as vast as the Sahara but it’s surface was covered in snow instead of sand.

 Azawakhs love to bond with one person and if you care about them and show love they develop a deep and very intense relationship with you that lasts forever. But he only obeyed half heartedly others  members of my family and never listened to anyone else. The fact that I lived close to the bush in a vast open space tempted him very often to go hunting to the bush with stray dogs and catch the occasional sheep or goat for which I had to pay for of cause because everybody knew Alaska.

Categories: Africa, African Dogs, Animals, Azawakh, Fulani, Mali, Nara, People, Sahel, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Graceful – The Heritage Of Al Andalus

Three Graces In The Village Of Keybane Maure

In the picture you see three young girls of the” Maure (Moor) people in one of the project’s partner villages. Their mother language is called ” Hassanyia “.

The term Moor refers historically to people of Berber, Black african and Arab descent who came originally from Northern Africa and conquered and ruled the Iberian Peninisula. Their rule was a long and powerful one and lasted for over 800 years. The peninsula, today Spain and Portugal, was given the name ” Al Andalus ” by the Moors.

The Moors of Al Andalus brought regions under their control as far as today’s Mauretania, parts of Senegal and West-Africa.

The term Mauri, in French ” Maure”, was later used by European traders and explorers venturing into these regions, to describe the Berber and Arab groups that speak an Arab dialect called ” Hassanyia “.

Hassanyia is a very beautiful and melodic language to my ears.It exists only in certain parts of this world. Nara is one of them.

It is argued that the Moors who speak Hassanyia, or even the Moors in general, are not a distinct ethnical group. But once you have contact with their people it is evident how strong and distinct their cultural identity is.

I have mentioned that the Sahel region is one of the poorest on earth. But it’s people are one of the most graceful and proudest on earth that I have ever met.

Categories: Africa, Arab, Berber, Hassanyia, Nara, Nature, People, Tradition, West Africa, women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Africa, Landscapes, Nara, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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