CARAVANS OF SALT - TUAREG TRADE ROUTES IN NIGER
In Feb. 2006 pillars fetched 3500 CFA in Damergou markets. Prices were broadly similar in 2007 - 2008 though many Tuareg reported that they could obtain 3500 CFA only within the Maradi region with Damergou falling to 3000 CFA. Salt prices rise towards summer - when livestock need it most, but most Tuareg - except the Kel Gress - cannot afford to wait. As with the Kanouri of Bilma, caravaneers usually deal with the same farmer each year. He will look after their interests, take care of any problems and hold their millet until they return home. While caravaneers go about their business, exhausted camels finally rest and graze.
Above Photographs. Heading south. Caravaneers rest with their families a few weeks before continuing the journey south. Children rush to meet their fathers. When crossing the Tenere, wives and families remain anxious.
Above Photographs. Water is kept cool and fresh in goatskins - 'abiok'. Father and son readjust a camel's load. Going south, caravan tempo eases. Children and older relatives - not strong enough for the Tenere - often take part. Children are responsible for pounding and preparing millet for the evening meals. Prized camels are adorned with amulets.
Above Photographs. Garare market. Buyers haggle humorously over salt prices. The Hausa, in particular, have a sweet tooth for dates. In Damergou, the Tuareg go from market to market selling their salt. In a nest of salt pillars, a youngster tries in vain to repair an old radio.
Above Photographs. Villages in the Damergou region of southern Niger each have a weekly market. The Tuareg arrive at first light to display their salt and dates.
Above Photographs. The farmer will look after any problems and provide up to date advice on the best markets and current prices. A Hausa millet farmer passes by to chat. Farmers frequently offer hospitality, for camel dung helps fertilize their fields. As with the Kanouri of Bilma, strong bonds of mutual benefit exist between Hausa millet farmers and Tuareg caravans. The Agadez based charity - HED Tamat has established a depot in Tessaoua allowing caravaneers to deposit salt and baggage. The depot has proved a great success, especially with the Kel Timia.
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