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Description: Traditional scenes of Tuareg life, including a young man's transition to manhood, wedding festivities and a camel salt caravan through the Sahara.
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Clip #: TFA-304A
Length: 13:17
Year: 1948
Color: B/W
Sound: Sound
Library: TFA Network
Decade: 1940s
Region: Africa
Subject: Native Life
Original: 16mm
1940s, Africa, North Africa, Algeria, Sahara Desert, Hoggar Mountains, Tuareg people, nomads camping in desert, mother nursing baby, Tuareg man departing family campsite on camel and visiting elders / nobles to select newborn son’s name, Tuareg man loading gifts onto camel’s back before he returns to family, crying baby, mother handing baby to father mounted on camel, camel caravan, campsite being pitched in desert with mother teaching children how to set up camp and perform domestic duties, siblings rough housing as they perform chores, children playing with baby camel, caravan traveling through desert in search of food and water, camels eating, livestock herds, nomads sitting around campfire at night with elders recounting historic stories to children, young man being initiated into Tuareg manhood, father covering son’s head and face with litham veil and putting strap holding takouba sword over his head, lisam, tagelmust, takuba, takoba, nobles paying tribute to ladies of their choice by trying to win their hands in marriage, Tuareg groom bringing seven white milch camels to bride’s campsite, wedding festivities, women paying drums and chanting as they clap hands in time, men showing off camel riding abilities, women preparing bed of sand and setting down first stake for bridal tent, skins for tent being swung in gesture of incantation to protect home, bridegroom and family waiting for bride in tent, cloaked bride approaching tent with friends and family as groom’s cousin bars her entrance with sword until he is given present by bride’s family, bride lifting cloak from her face, bride and groom holding hands, groom’s friends “kidnapping” them back to groom’s father’s camp after they spent a year living at her father’s camp, Tuareg rounding up camels and preparing for salt caravan, camels being loaded with salt blocks and bags of fodder, camel salt caravan embarking on trek into Southlands of Sahara, animal skeletons throughout desert, camels sitting down, camel drivers resting, fire being lit to cook millet mixed with water and cheese, camel drivers eating from shared bowl and lifting up litham to eat from spoons, women in camps preparing traditional food and handicrafts, camel hair being spun into yarn, woman weaving mat, brass and copper jewelry, smith, woman making leather doll fashioned in image of father, men playing traditional game in desert sand, camel caravan traveling through desert

At the twilight of his life, an old Tuareg leaves to wait for death in the desert of the Hoggar, surrounded by his most faithful friends. In the silence of the desert and the recollection of his companions, he recalls the great moments of his life. He imagines the ceremonies and rites at his birth. He remembers his childhood, punctuated by the departure and return of the caravans, his apprenticeship as a camel driver, and the day when his father surrounded his face and the head of the litham, he became a man, a Tuareg. He remembers his marriage, his preparations until the wedding night, and the year he lived alone with his wife. He revisited the long journeys during which the caravans, loaded with the salt of the Armador mines, joined Zinder in Sudan. The Tuareg exchanged their cargoes for grain for the winter, then went back to In Salah, where they exchanged surpluses for dates. When he returned to the village, in the evening, he listened to the storyteller, who recounted the stories of his valiant ancestors. But in the desert, the hour of his last journey is near. In a last gesture, old Tuareg raises his finger in the sky to Allah that he will join. Buried in the sand, it will be a part of the desert that it has trampled for so long.

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