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Complete lack of understanding of history and local culture by the invaders ... attempted dominance is doomed to fail except the colonial tool of genocide.

[All links added are mine - Oui]

Lost Lords of the Sahara | Sept. 2011 |

Ruggedly independent, the Tuareg struggle to survive amid the turmoil of North Africa.

The rebel commander, his face hidden behind a dark turban, leads the way over the soft sand, scorched black in places by exploded mortar shells and littered with detritus from a series of battles waged here, on a children's soccer field.

With nearly every stride, our feet crunch spent rifle cartridges. "Step in my steps," he cautions, noting that the Niger army had mined the area, where there had been a school for Tuareg. His men removed some of the devices; others remained lost in the shifting sands. "Maybe they are buried too deep to explode if you step on one."

It is late afternoon in the dry season, and the temperature has finally slipped below 100°F. The beige dunes stretching to the north begin to take on a pink hue, and the shadows from the steep ridges to the southwest are spreading across the valley floor. In this lonely valley called Tazerzaït, where the Aïr Massif meets the great sand seas of the Sahara, the commander's men had won the greatest victory of their two-year rebellion against the Niger government.

The rebels, all ethnic Tuareg, descend from the fierce nomads who for several centuries dominated the lucrative caravan trade in gold, spices, and slaves that crisscrossed this desolate region of North Africa. Fighting under the banner of the Movement of Nigeriens for Justice (MNJ) and supported in part by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, they had captured 72 government soldiers at Tazerzaït and renewed their demands that the government share revenue derived from another source of treasure: uranium mined on Tuareg lands. In a show of goodwill the Tuareg released all of their prisoners--except one. "He is a war criminal," the commander says.

As we walk, the commander explains that local Tuareg built the school at Tazerzaït because it is near a well central to the region's far-flung grazing areas, allowing families to visit their children as they moved their herds. Previously, locals who wanted their children educated had to send them to far villages and rarely saw them.

"My father only knew how to live in the desert," the commander says. "He knew how to make the salt caravan to Bilma, how to find grazing in the desert, how to hunt antelope in the canyons and wild sheep in the mountains. And that is what I know, but the life of the desert is ending. Our children need school."

We reach the top of a small bluff where three mud-brick classrooms stand, their walls gouged with bullet holes, their roofs missing. The chalkboards are covered with graffiti left by the Nigerien soldiers--French profanities and cartoons depicting Tuareg having sex with animals.

Four rebels with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders have brought the alleged war criminal down from the mountain cave where they are holding him. His posture is slumped, like a sulking teen, and he crosses and uncrosses his arms, eyes darting among the men. The sleeves of his camouflage shirt are cut off and his combat boots are untied. He claims to be 27 years old, but his round face and awkward manner make him look much younger.

Resistance to Mining: Enabling Factors and control of knowledge in uranium mining conflicts in Africa | PhD thesis - Sept. 2015 |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Aug 10th, 2023 at 07:21:46 AM EST

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