I thought this writing, in the NY Times by Lydia Polgreen, is good, concise, and informative.
The Tuaregs are a nomadic people who live largely in the Sahara, spanning Niger, Mali, Algeria and Libya. For centuries they plied caravan routes across the desert, but colonial borders turned them into citizens of several nations. In the 1960s and 1990s, Tuareg rebellions erupted in the Sahara, seeking autonomy or independence. Violence flared again in 2007 in Niger, where Tuareg rebels seeking to wrest control of the country’s rich uranium deposits mounted a rebellion.
It allowed me to understand how complicated the Tuareg situation must be. More:
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya’s former leader, supported Tuareg rebellions in Mali and Niger over several decades, and analysts in the region say the current uprising is closely linked to the fall of Colonel Qaddafi, whose weapons are suspected of playing a major role in the Malian rebels’ success.
But Lydia Polgreen is reporting from Johannesburg, apparently. Is anyone in towns like Tinzaouaten, which wikipedia tells me was “wrested from control” of the government on Feb. 8, I wondered? So I went looking for pictures of Tinzaouaten. I found this person’s flickr stream. I think she is just an amateur, not a journalist? Don’t want to post them here as she reserves her rights. But jeez.
The rebels attacked the town of Niafunké in January. Ali Farka Toure was born in Niafunke and was the mayor there. Here is a video of him:
Photo up top is of “Timbuktu Manuscripts.”
Had a vague idea that I might go to Dogon country in Mali, ever since I read about it in Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s ten best treks. Now seems like an especially bad time to go, better stick to the Haute Route. But still, in my reading, came across this interesting or perhaps stupid discussion of whether the Dogon people have advanced astronomical knowledge. (My verdict? WHAT? Definitely not.)
I hope Amadou and Mariam are ok