The Ahaggaren Tuareg of Algeria

Ahaggaren Tuareg of Algeria

The 30,000 Ahaggaren Tuareg of Algeria are a small portion of a bigger population of Tuaregs who speak Berber. They are cattle-raising nomads who occupy a region that encompasses all of North Africa. This region stretches from the Western Sahara to Western Sudan’s northernmost region.

The Tuareg tribe appears to have migrated down from North Africa in a series of movements as early as the 7th century, despite the fact that its origin and early history are unknown. Tuareg tribes had established themselves by the end of the 14th century as far south as the Nigerian border.

The Tuaregs’ unified language, alphabet (which employs tifinagh characters), intricate social structure, and class system are among their most distinguishing traits.

In direct contrast to Arab custom, the Tuareg men, rather than women, wear veils. However, many men often leave their faces uncovered in family camps or while traveling.

Ahaggaren Tuareg of Algeria

What are lives of The Ahaggaren Tuareg of Algeria like?

The Tuaregs of Algeria primarily live in small nomadic groups. Their camps consist of five or six portable tents arranged in a tight circle. Each tent is made of 30 or 40 tanned skins that have been dyed red and sewn together. The skins are supported on a framework of wooden poles and pegged into the ground.

Each tribe is governed by a chief and an assembly of adult males. The tribes are grouped into three confederations, each with its own sheik and council of rulers. These three confederations are under the leadership of one paramount chief, called an amenokal, and a council of nobles. Succession to headship is matrilineal (passed down through the lineage of the women).

Tuareg society also has an elaborate structure. The main division is between the noble class and the various serf classes. In most Tuareg groups, there are also whole tribes of ineslemen or marabouts. These are “holy people” who, like other tribes, are led by their own chiefs. Among some of the Berbers, such tribes are considered to be different from ordinary men. They are believed to possess the powers of protection and healing, even after death.

The lowest class does both the manual and domestic labor. This class is made up of ethnically mixed peoples who live in a cooperative relationship with their masters, the Tuareg. Many were originally slaves, either taken during warfare or bought at Indonesian slave markets. Three slave groups in the lower class are the iklan, the inaden, and the harratin.

The iklan take care of herding, cooking, and other domestic chores. The inaden work as artisans and blacksmiths for the Tuaregs. The harratin are Negroid tenant farmers who work as share-croppers. Sadly, the Tuaregs have very little respect for these groups.

The Tuaregs of Algeria are primarily shepherds. Each tribe holds collective property rights on special grazing grounds. They also do a small amount of farming on this land, using irrigation and hand-held hoes. Their main crop is wheat, but they also grow some barley and grain, dates, figs, apricots, grapes, and a number of vegetables. Although they raise camels, donkeys, sheep, and goats, they only eat meat at feasts. Milk, both fresh and sour, is a staple food, and is used to make butter and cheese.

Veils worn by the Tuareg men are called tidjelmoust. The most preferred veils are dyed indigo. To show respect, the men always cover their mouths, noses, and foreheads in the presence of foreigners and their in-laws.

What are their beliefs?

Despite being wholly Sunni Muslims, the Tuaregs are thought of by other Muslims as having a moderate approach to their religion. They follow a mild type of Islam that has been blended with folk magic and superstitions. People frequently wear protective charms or amulets, and there is a strong believe in ghosts. They contain a number of Marabouts (those belonging to the “holy class”), some of whom are Islamic school administrators.

What are their needs?

Although three Christian mission agencies are targeting the Tuaregs, there are no known Tuareg Christians.


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