Aissa is a 26 years old desert guide. He loves history, photography and knows all the Tassili N’Ajjer rock paintings. He is in active collaboration with many local organizations to promote the cultural heritage of the area. He has been in Europe and, as for the most part of Tuareg, could not understand our rythms of living and concept of time.
“Our day ends at dusk and starts at dawn”, he said. The desert is his life.

Barka is a 85 years old camel driver. He was always a camel driver. His father taugh him how to do this job when we was child.
Once, when he was a kid, a snake bit him im the desert. Barka walked alone for two days to arrive at a medical center, where he was injected an antidote. He wakes up every morning at 5 am and looks for his camels in the desert following their tracks. Even if he ties their paws every night to not let them get away, they have figured out how to run for kilometers with their paws tied! He has never seen the sea.

Sayah is a 36 years old desert guide. He has a baby and would like to send him to school, but he’s afraid his son will choose the city to the desert lifestyle. “I’m one of the last desert guides. I was born and grew up in the desert. I know all its secrets. I could cross it day and night. If my son leaves the desert, what will you do after my death? Will you use the gps?”

Sarmi an elder, head of household and desert guide. He comes from a family of guides. His father was the last keeper of the Tassili n’Ajjer.
Sarmi travalled a lot trying to promote the tourism in the area. He has even left his chèche and burnus for a while to visit some European capitals for this reason, but he has always come back home. He wouldn’t renounce the desert sand, the silence, the rocks, the dunes, the colors for no reason in the world.

Mohammed is a young camel driver. He wakes up everyday at 5 am and looks for his camels in the desert following their tracks. He enchants me with the three rounds tea ritual, which is only 100 years old but has already entered our collective imagination. Tuareg prepare tea three times using the same tea-leaves and says: "The first round is bitter, like death. The second round is sweet, like life. The third round is sugary, like love”. In the evening, Muhammed loves singing traditional songs and playing djembe while sitting around the fire.

Muhammed is a driver. It’s a modern job, unknown to his ancestors and important for the community. He bears witness to the constant evolution of the Tuareg society,even though it remains devoted to its culture, which for centuries has been transmitted from father to son only by words. The traditional Tuareg society is nomadic and hierarchical, founded on castes, with noblemen and vassals. Today the Tuareg have become a settled people. Most of them have moved to start settled communities, and social classes have almost disappeared


In the World of Tuareg

These pictures has been taken in a “route of the desert” of the Tassili n'Ajjer (Algeria), on the border with Libia and Niger. For thousands of year Tuareg people walked this route for the Trans-Saharan trades, and Nomad took sheeps and camels to drink to the oasis of the region. Even if most of them are sedentary today, Tuareg remain one of the last “free people” of the world.

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