Talk:Tuareg people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

is the total population curect?[edit]

the list of nations with populations might not be all the countries there is what if more than 5.2 million? are there any tauregs in tunisia? it seems like a posibility considering theres sme of of these people in burkina faso. lets find out if theres any in tunisia. if its 100,000 people or more in this nation then its significant (talk) 00:12, 11 June 2010 (UTC)


An occasional visitor to wikipedia, I am surprised to see such a lot of inconsistencies and false opinions stated on this page. Wikipedia visitors will be better served if someone corrected the present information from ethnographies written about the Tuareg. I don't have the time but I'll give a few references. I'd be glad if someone uses them well. 1. Jeremy Keenan. 'The Tuareg of Ahaggar.' London: Allen Lane/ Penguin Books, 1977. 2. Robert F Murphy. Social Distance and the Veil in Louise Sweet (ed.) 'Peoples and cultures of the Middle East.' Vol. 1. farden City, NY: Natural History Presss, 1972, pp. 291-314.

If someone kindly looks up, you'll also find newer ethnographies since Tuareg are well studied in anthropological terms. Some misconceptions. Also kindly look into these glaringly obvious (to an anthropologist) fallacies:

1. Veil. it's got nothing to do with harsh weather since all the harshest work is carried out by boys and women who are both unveiled. Look at Murphy (cited above) for better explanation. The veil is a strong symbol of Tuareg nobility (primarily though even slaves wear a veil though in different fashion) and signifies, broadly speaking, honour and shame. Murphy argues that it is a form of social distance, as dark glasses of Italian mafiosos, eg. Further all concepts of honour, shame, preservation of virtue, etc. found in Tuareg men's veiling practices (culturally complex and attended to with a great degree of decorum) are very similar to veiling of women in, say Yemen. The nobles observe the veil more strictly however, among closer relations they actually cover MORE of their face than among non-Tuareg or Europeans. Similarly Tuareg boys, amongst themselves and away from the camps will loosen the veil. A man pulls down his turban to shade his eyes and pulls up the veil to the highest point, just below the eyes when in the company of his in-laws.

2. Tuareg have a very personal wedding. Expand/ explain what is meant by 'personal'.

3. 'the only tradition they know is...' I beg to disagree. Be informed before writing.

4. Religion: they combine Sunni Islam with certain pre-Islamic animistic beliefs. Again, do not make 'purist' statements. Deviations, especially when done through Quran are not un-Islamic, at least not in terms of practice. Similarly spirits are, in a sense, a fundamental part of Islamic text. The Quran professes 'jinn' to be a category of earth-dwellers similar to humans, though made out of fire, not clay. Similarly what are thought to be animistic or syncretic traditions in certain beliefs are often shown by anthropology to be response to social/ cultural phenomenon and not pre-(Islamic/ Christian, etc) beliefs. Spirits cults and possessions are esp. interesting. For example, Janice Boddy has convincingly argued that the spirit possession cult in Sudan ('Wombs and Alien Spirits) appeared in the nineteenth century as a response to numerous incidences of strong social significance, not the least of which was colonial occupation, Mahdist wars and British domination. Therefore, the widespread cult of spirit possession amongst the Muslims in Sudan is not an animistic or syncretic tradition. Similar avoid using value-loaded terms like 'nominally'. Majority of the followers of most religions would seem (to the laymen) to be only nominally following their religion. Not fasting during Ramadan, eg. for travelers is authorised by the Quran. The general key in this situation would be to give religions designation to the person who professes belief in it without judging his intentions or (fallaciously judging his 'culture'). For encyclopedia articles, if contrary evidence exists, word it in such a way that it would sound fair: eg. 'Tuareg are Muslims. Some (cite) have expressed the opinion that they may also incorporate certain elements of animistic/ pre-Islamic beliefs...' Make sure the citation is a scholarly work and that the writer is aware that almost every religious society incorporates practices which might be seen to deviate from the 'essence' of that religion.

5. Slaves. One cannot be careful enough when using this term. This is the problem which has caused a Swiss (religious-funded) NGO and a French NGO much embarrassment in recent times because of mis-guided pity (fanatical?) impulse of wanting to first find anyone that may loosely fit their mental category of 'slave' and then waging a monetary crusade to 'free' him/ her. Simple rule: our conception of the term 'slave' in English inevitably comes from African slaves on American colonies, they way they were transported, treated, bonded, racially abused, etc. etc... In much of the pre-modern world, slaves did not have this racial, oppressive connotations. The Ottoman Turks, for example 'enslaved' other Turks, racially (and sometimes even hierarchically) their equal for their army. Also the Turks often had Circassian 'slaves.' These slaves enjoyed a great deal of social mobility, often rising to such high ranks as wazirs, generals and admirals in Ottoman Empire. At least two Turkish slave dynastie were elevated to the level of kings, even emperors. The Memelukes (=slaves) kings of Egypt and the Memeluke Emperors of India (of Turkic slave origin; ruled India for roughly four centuries). Often in non-Western world, and especially amongst the Tuareg, 'slave' simply means serf. While there are no movements and funding bodies shouting about emancipation of serfs (there are a lot more serfs in the world than slaves), people in the West are shouting themselves hoarse about emancipation of 'slaves' who, after emancipation often end up in situations worse than those from which they were 'emancipated'. Again, reccommend any interested person to inform himself by reading ethnographies on the Berber/ Tuareg.

The implicit signified in our term 'slave' has far darker meanings than the reality outside of the Western world. One can't be careful enough when dealing with this subject. (in the History section, it says 'captive servants'... better term? Not necessarily, maybe the term 'slave' should be elaborated on or the Berber word 'slave' should replace the English.

'A concerned anthropologist' —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:32, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Missing Reference?[edit]

I had an encounter with a Toureg group in central Libya in 1978 or 1979 (Waha Camp, Oasis Oil Company). My Libyan coworkers told me their versions of stories about the Touregs (salt trade, etc.), none of which I would be able to verify for Wikipedia. The head of the Tripoli Museum told me at the time, however, that a Victorian era woman (?) had joined the Touregs for several years and participated in their migratory journeys. She wrote a book on her experiences. She sounds like a tough version of Gertrude Bell or W. Shakespear of Kuwait. Does anyone know her name or her book? I would be willing to go through it to see if there are suitable additions for Wikipedia, if I can only come across it. Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jamesreed48 (talkcontribs) 19:38, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Response to Jamesreed48: Could have been Gertrude Bell (if you Search on Amazon for "Gertrude Bell," you will find several books about her desert travels. Also see, Alexandrine Tinne (Wikipedia article: FoxezandHedgehogs (talk) 15:04, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Hi! The page for Takamba is empty, and the link to Tende directs to a town in Italy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

added info on festival[edit]

I added info on the Desert Festival whcih presents Tuareg culture. It is the most eaisly accessible one and absolutely no info on where to see the culture whas given in the section. Info about other festivals (in Algeria and Libya) is on the French wikipedia, but as they are hard to get to for tourists I haven't written about them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

brought in material[edit]

I've brought in material from the Italian and German and reorganized the article to follow Wikipedia:WikiProject Ethnic Groups Template. However, this still deserves a lot more work. -- Jmabel 03:07, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC) ...some of which I've now done. -- Jmabel 01:16, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

anonymous additions[edit]

Anonymous additions roughly 25-28 March 2004 look plausible, if sometimes ungrammatical, but no references are cited at all. I would expect this material is more accurate than not, but on a topic where there is much contradictory information on the web, this mass of information without citations worries me a little. -- Jmabel 00:33, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

In any case, I am going about cleaning it up grammatically, insofar as I can make sense of it. This article could really use a going-over by someone knowledgable, and this new material could use some decent citation of sources. -- Jmabel 23:53, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I have pulled the following out of the article, pending citation:

Important remark is to know that: Tamajaq, Tamasheq, Tamahaq, sometimes spelled Tamashek, all these are local names form the same Tuareg language. Therefore the Tuareg people are: Kel Tamajaq, Kel Tamasheq.., the ones who speak Tamajaq language.

Obviously, "Important remark is to know that" is not how an encyclopedia should read, but the reason I've pulled this is that there is no source cited and the generally reliable seems to consider these distinct dialects. I do not know the facts of the matter, but would like to see a citation if an equivalent statement is to be restored to the article, contradicting -- Jmabel 00:09, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)

They are mutually comprehensible; cf. Karl-G. Prasse, who regards them as a single language. However, while he is vastly more authoritative than the Ethnologue, there is no doubt room for dispute; there almost always is with distant dialects/closely related languages. - Mustafaa 00:13, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I've created a map of the area where Tuaregs live. Sources are Sudlow 2001, Lhote 1984 en Bernus 1996. It is a beta version, please tell me what you think. - Mark Dingemanse (talk) 12:29, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'd recaption it as "areas where significant numbers of Tuaregs live"; I think it's useful, but the precise lines are liable to prove controversial. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:20, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)

Indeed, my sources all differ from each other. That's why I hatched it and didn't give it an outline. As for the recaptioning, good idea. - Mark Dingemanse (talk) 20:47, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

(map is now in article) -- Jmabel | Talk 00:03, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)

I was under the impression that there were Tuaregs in Mauritania but perhaps if true they are recent refugees? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:26, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Indigenous peoples category[edit]

I should like to add a few comments and references in support of my proposal to assign the category Category:Indigenous peoples (actually its appropriate regional sub-category) to this entry.

First of all, I acknowledge that the term indigenous peoples itself is open to a variety of interpretations, uses and misuses. However, there is a specific, well-documented and frequent usage intended here, and I have attempted to circumvent some of this confusion at some indigenous-related pages - please refer to these:

  • Firstly, at the main indigenous peoples article itself, by explicitly refining and correlating the definition to those documented by recognised international bodies, governments and indigenous representatives;
  • Secondly, at the Category:Indigenous peoples page, where I have attempted to define just what is meant by the category, reasons why the category can be considered a valid one, and proposed criteria by which to ascertain potential members of the category. See in particular the Category talk:Indigenous peoples page for a more complete exposition.

Without fully recounting these, the notion and term indigenous peoples has a valid, contemporary usage in national and trans-national social, academic and political contexts. As such, it is a notable feature of human society, study and politics, and therefore worthy of encyclopaedic mention in Wikipedia, particularly insofar as it can add to the overall understanding of a relevant people, state, event, and history. Many different groups are identified or seek to be identified as indigenous (or some other locally-used cognate term), many publications and studies concern themselves with indigenous issues, and many governments acknowledge (even if partially) or are under persuasion to acknowledge the indigenous identity and claims of some of their peoples in their legal and regulatory instruments.

This is not to say that all such claims are equally recognised, universally held or supported. Even so, where substantiated (ie, noted in independent sources) claims are made but disputed by some other sector of the population or government in question, they may still rightly be noted in WP. It is also somewhat irrelevant what one's own views may be on the validity or otherwise of a people's indigenous status - what matters is whether in the "real world" this debate takes place or not, and where events and entities in the real world concern indigenous affairs, WP may cover this - under its NPOV & other guidelines, of course.

The utility of having a category on indigenous peoples is that it is a method which will facilitate comparative study between and of the various peoples for whom the claim to indigenous status is made. Of course, not every single ethnicity or ethno-stub will warrant such a claim; indigenous peoples are rather a subset of ethnic groups if you like, and categorisation as indigenous will not interfere with any other category scheme, but rather complement them. Note in particular that indigenous does not mean the very first peoples who inhabited a land, but rather that the peoples' current context and relation to the wider society means that they, organisations and perhaps governments are motivated to assert their rights to practise and observe at least some of their own ways and traditions in their territories, without being totally subsumed into an overall, externally-imposed identity.

Now, as per the criteria documented on the Category page, to overcome difficulties and POV-based judgements on whether or not any particular group ought to be associated with an indigenous status, it should be necessary to seek and provide external and notable references to demonstrate that indigenous affairs and issues play at least a part in that group's status and interactions. In the case of the Tuareg, these are the references I used:

  • Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee This recognised organisation of African indigenous peoples is active in coordinating issues for various groups, negotiating with governments, and the like. Tuareg individuals hold regional representative posts for the organisation. In its section on West Africa, they note:
    • Groups claiming indigenous status include the Tuareg, Bororo, Wodaabe, Tubu (Teda and Daza) and Mbororo...The claim for collective rights as indigenous peoples arises from the marginalisation of Saharan nomads, first under colonialism and then later by independent states, all of which are dominated by sedentary agricultural peoples living in the South...Following a new census, Nigeriens are acknowledging that the Tuareg are the second largest ethnic group in the country. Niger conducted long delayed democratic elections in 2004. There are now Tuareg controlled councils in more than 10 communes. The challenge for Niger nomads and agricultural peoples is how to find common ground to work together...Tuareg nomads from Mali and Burkina participated in CIDA sponsored follow ups on the World Summit on the Information Society in Ottawa
  • 2002 UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on indigenous issues. Tuareg and other west and north African peoples have made frequent representations to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and other bodies. This is but one example, an extract from which reads:
    • ' Case 12. In several North African countries (mainly Algeria and Morocco), the Amazigh people (also referred to as Kabyles, Touareg and Berbers), who consider themselves as indigenous to these countries, have been asking for official recognition of their language, culture and identity, as well as the full enjoyment of their civil and political rights (Communications addressed to the Special Rapporteur, Geneva, July 2001). After a rebellion in 1990, which actually started in Niger, the Touareg of Mali entered into a peace treaty with the Government in 1991, followed by one in 1992, to allow them regional self-governance and internal democracy, enabling the Government to grant autonomy to the northern areas of the country occupied by the Touareg.
    • ' Case 13. While in Africa there is no consensus on the use of the term "indigenous", the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has argued for the protection of the human rights of specific sectors of the population... The African Commission argued that "language is an integral part of the structure of culture; it in fact constitutes its pillar and means of expression par excellence. Its usage enriches the individual and enables him to take an active part in the community and in its activities. To deprive a man of such participation amounts to depriving him of his identity …".
  • submission to 3rd Session of UNPFII from association of Amazigh organisations, which requested:
    • ...[intercession] with the governments of North Africa and the Sahel to bring them to respect the fundamental rights of the Amazigh indigenous people by acknowledging their identity and their culture, and to take constitutional and institutional responsibility for the Amazigh language as an official national language
    • ...[intercession] with the government of Algeria in order to put an end to the crisis in Kabylia, which has existed since April 2001, by undertaking the claims of the Kabyle popular movement, as well as those of the populations of the Touaregs and Aures regions
    • ...[intercession] with the governments of North Africa and the Sahel against forced settlements of the Tuareg people under the pretext of the fight against terrorism.
    • ...[intercession] with the governments of Niger to take necessary steps to ward off possible health risks of the Tuareg people caused by uranium operations at the Arlit mine.

There are a few others, but this will do for now. In short(!), I maintain that (a)indigenous peoples is a useful and valid category, and (b) the Tuareg warrant inclusion in this category.--cjllw | TALK 09:03, 2005 Jun 22 (UTC)

As a postscript, I will be away/offline the next few days, so will be happy to continue any discussion upon my return, probably sometime mid next week.--cjllw | TALK 09:17, 2005 Jun 22 (UTC)

OK. I'm still doubtful about a. - I regard this term's use in most contexts, especially that of the Tuareg, as essentially political propaganda, little different from the use of words like "terrorist" or "freedom fighter", both of which have widespread international usage - but I'll grant that you have established b. - Mustafaa 19:06, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Thanks Mustafaa , for your consideration on the matter. In further support of (a)category validity & usefulness, particularly in the African context: indeed, the concept and acceptance of identifying indigenous peoples in Africa is perhaps a recently-evolving one, only now taking shape and gaining support from African governments in the post-European colonial period. Only as recently as 2000, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (instituted by African heads of state under the auspices of the OAU and continued by its successor the African Union) adopted a resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa, and thereby set up (in 2001) a working group to study and report on African indigenous issues. This working group delivered its final report in May 2003, which was then adopted by this resolution in November 2003. The full report can be found here, and it is a quite detailed survey and exposition of indigenous affairs in a modern African context. Specific mention is made of the Tuareg people as indigenous in several places, such as on p.11:

  • The Tuareg are part of the indigenous Amazigh peoples (generally known as 'Berbers') of North Africa. They mainly live in southern Algeria, northern Mali and Niger, with smaller pockets in Libya, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Their precise numbers are not known and published figures range from 300,000 to 3 million. The southern Tuareg of Niger and Mali probably number around one million and 675,000 respectively. The northern Tuareg, who inhabit the regions of Ahaggar and Tassili-n-Ajjer in Algeria number some 25,000.

and on p.36, where the 1992 National Pact signed with the Tuareg in Mali is cited as a positive example of status recognition.

The African Commission being sponsored by all but one of the 54 African states may be considered to be representative of governmental support for the concept, even if its resolutions are not separately enforceable.

(Partial) governmental recognition of indigenous claim is also indicated by instruments such as Niger's Code Rural 1993, where land-use differentiation is made for pastoral/herder groups such as the Tuareg.

Now, whether or to what degree African states actually practise what they have signed up to in adopting the resolution, is another matter altogether- but at least nominally, the concept of particular African indigenous peoples is recognised, and an increasing feature of the political and social spheres. --cjllw | TALK 2005 June 29 03:30 (UTC)

Article Quality - Sub Standard & Tendentious[edit]

Reading over this article, this appears to be very shoddy work with quite loose characterisations. For example, the connexion between the Tuareg and Garamantes, while plausible, is hardly well established. The assertion of ancient caravan trade operations for 2 millenia is a gross exageration (as well as unattested to). The article in general is in now way up to enclyopedic standards or even general scholarly ones. I removed the false Arabic etymology with respect to the origin of the name, but am a loss as to where to start otherwise. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 24 Nov 2005.

For the record the "false Arabic etymology" removed was "Tuareg may have come from a Bedouin pronunciation of the Arabic Tawariq ("abandoned by God", singular Tarqi)," removed with the comment "I removed reference to the clearly false etymology of a Bedouine pronunciation of Taouruq in Arabic, the TRQ root has no abandonment meanings attached, confusion w TRK root." I don't know Arabic, so I have no independent judgment here, but at the very least this is a widely reported folk etymology, so it probably should be engaged even if only to give a scholarly citation as to why it is wrong.

I want to reiterate something I said before. "There is very contradictory information about the Tuareg to be found on the Internet and elsewhere. Please edit with more than the usual care, and more than the usual concern for citing sources." This is an article where we really need a lot more scholarship and citation. I myself simply don't know enough about this part of the world, or its languages, to bring anything to this besides process. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:23, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I was the editor on the false etymology. While your note is well taken (and frankly the article contains much rubbish that needs correcting), in re the Arabic, I can only cite to Arabic dictionaries. I gave the proper roots, the false etymology is quite clearly taken from confusion from non Arabic speakers between the TRK root and the TRQ root. There is really no "scholarship" to cite, it's basic knowledge of the language. Widely reported folk etymologies may be of interest, but in this case it's pure romantic illiteracy on the part of some Westerners. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Collounsbury (talkcontribs) 11 Dec 2005.

Explicit citation would be good, this is bound to resurface. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:56, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Well this is a bit like citing that Cat means Cat and not Dog, it really is that basic. But see The Hans Wehr (English or German) or any other standard Arabic reference dictionary for the TRK and TRQ roots. Afraid there is no way around knowing Arabic on this. The reason I made this change and not the multitude of other corrections that need to be done is I considered and consider it not worthy of citation. The article itself is complete rubbish full of romantic rubbish myths and the like, but I haven't the time or inclination to pull up proper sourcing and the like (which does NOT include the internet). The arty should be marked as tenditious or whatever you wiki people do to mark substandard entries.
I tried to re-write the most accepted etymology among linguists (twareg = arabic plural of targi, ethnic name from Targa, ancient toponym embracing (part of) Fezzan. Targa itself is a Berber word meaning "channel". The problem with the root TRQ comes from the rendering as "G" of arabic "Q" by nomad Arabs, but forms like Tawaariq are but "reconstructed" forms of a non-existent "classical" word. (Vermondo, Italy)
I can confirm that this is one of the etymologies commonly cited by linguists (the 'tawariq' one is widely known, but considered erratic). Trouble is that I don't have a recent published source available either, only an unpublished Tamasheq course by Maarten Kossmann (Leiden University). I suppose it doesn't help either that I heard him saying it. I'll look out for a citeable source. — mark 09:38, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Not sure I follow our Italian colleague's comment re 'reconstructed' but the note seems right, although should be edited for clarity. Perhaps I will later. (Collounsbury 02:22, 31 January 2006 (UTC)).
I found a source for the linguistic origin of Twareg in Heath (2005) A Grammar of Tamashek... em zilch 02:59, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

I hve no clue about the meaning or the etymology of the word, but the end result is an article that looks a bit ridiculous. In one section, there is a whole discussion about the possible meaning and/or etymology of the word, and in the next section it is baldly stated that "Tuareg literally translates to "God's Abandoned"". This is not consistent. It reads as though there were several different people writing this, and they did not bother to read each other's writing (which is probably, in fact, what happened). Ifdef 20:19, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

That is the same in the article Tifinagh, although there are many theories on the origin of Tifinagh. The article referred to a site discussing it, and commented that there is no need to repeat that discussion in the page. And soon, they decided it's of Phoenician origin, and it means the "letters of the phoenicians".
About the name Twareg, i can ensure you that the humans get headache when seeing a word with an unknown meaning. And they began with interpretting it like all the words are interpretable including the dead words, although many living names are indeciphirable, and that is valid for "tifinagh", "tawareg". Best regards! Read3r 13:11, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I cannot find "tenditious" in any of my dictionaries, and assume "tendentious" is the word intended. Seasalt 13:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Does anyone else think there is a serious problem with NPOV in the tendentious avoidance of the word 'slave"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:49, August 30, 2007 (UTC)


I've just put a small change in the phrase concerning Targa, after a control in de Foucauld's 4 volumes and Prasse's 2 volumes Tuareg dictionaries. As a matter of fact, Tuaregs call Targa the whole Fezzan, not justa a valley in it.

Just a question to those who spoke of Hassaniya Arabic apropos to the broken plural tawareg: are you sure it's Hassaniya? I think that such a plural could belong to any beduin Arabic dialect. I feel that the specification "Hassaniya" is superfluous and possibly mistaken.--Vermondo 13:17, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know who speculated re Taouareq/g being a particularly "Hassaniyah" plural, it strikes me as rather typically Arabic. The "G" as "Q" is of course typical Bedouin dialect, but also crops up in Maghrebine Arabic dialects (some settled ones prob. from bedu origin). Maghrebi usage does seem to like the broken plural for "peoples" - for example Meghrariba instead of Maghribiyine, Touanisa / Twanisa for Tunisiyine, Msaroua/Msarwa for Misriyine, etc. ; I agree with you that specificying Hassaniya is definately superfluous and I would agree, probably mistaken. (collounsbury 15:55, 5 March 2006 (UTC))

Social Stratification[edit]

I am removing the statement that suggests the early nineteenth-century French Army had automatic rifles. It displays a level of ignorance that must only be attainable through sheer force of will. Drogue 01:00, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

The article specifies the French invasion as "early nineteenth century", but refers to two dates in the early twentieth. French colonization of North Africa did not really start until the late nineteenth century -- should this be changed to either late nineteenth or early twentieth century? tomh009 14:00, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

From Susan Arritt's The Living Earth Book of Deserts (1993, Reader's Digest): "Around the beginning of this century, they {the Tuareg} battled French colonists for control of their desert empire. In one of their final and largest encounters, in 1916, the Tuareg were subdued by the rapid-fire rifles of a French force near Oursi in present-day Burkina-Faso." Early twentieth century seems reasonable from this information. I'm at work right now, but I'll try to remember to make the edit when I get home. Lintilla 00:16, 10 July 2006 (UTC) As a matter of fact, I think the early 19th century date might be correct. Napoleon's invasion of Egypt was from about 1798-1800, and I can't imagine they conquered Egypt without meeting (and of course killing) any Tuareg tribesmen.Anhydrobiosis (talk) 01:36, 4 June 2011 (UTC) Never mind. The tuareg weren't even in the same half of Africa.Anhydrobiosis (talk) 01:57, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

White Guy[edit]

Alright, who put up the picture of the white guy dressed like a Tuareg on the front page? Knowing full well, most Tuareg look nothing like that...if you click on te pic you can even see that he has blue eyes!!! What a rip off!!!

  • That's the most ridiculous statement I've ever read! Have you ever seen a Tuareg? Tuaregs and Berbers can be light or dark skinned. Also, it is not uncommon to see blue or green eyes among some Berbers and some have blondish traits. They are a Mediterranean people just like Spaniards, Portuguese, Sicilians, etc. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15 July 2006.
I suggest you ask User:Anthere who took the picture. —Khoikhoi 00:35, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
While most Tuareg are indeed darker, that is not to say all are dark. If you looked closely enough to notice eye color, then you can also see that the nose of the person in the current photo has been dyed blue by his tagelmust, which at the very least suggests he has been wearing it for a while. I would suggest using one of the other pictures, such as Targui7.jpg and/or Targui8.jpg along with the current one. It might stave off further argument, since the "color" of Tuareg and Berbers in general seems to be a very hot topic of argument, both in their native lands and on the internet. Dalrymple 00:54, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Indeed there is a lot of debate regarding the race of North Africans. As someone who has been to Morocco I can say that the Berbers do tend to have a Mediterranean appearance and blue eyes do pop up. The Tuareg though, by virtue of living in the extreme south and interacting with Sub-Saharan peoples tend to not resemble the majority of Berbers, but there are exceptions across the board. There was a similar debate over at the Egypt page over an African looking Egyptian girl being included, which I think is fine since some Egyptians do look African, but not the majority. I agree with Dalrymple that one might as well add more pictures rather than deleting some so as to show the range rather than try to go a stereotype or prototype. Tombseye 02:05, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Although anthropologists nowadays refrain from giving a race label to any peoples, for good reasons, Robert Murphy writing in the 70s calls the Tuareg a Caucasoid race. People are what they profess to be and where there is contention over history amongst themselves, it's usually a contention over ownership and not 'actual' history. And skin colour, facial features, etc. are not a good marker for race classification. For example. the Turks are a Mongoloid race, though hardly any Turks, especially those from Turkey look particularly Mongoloid. Similarly the people who live in the Caucasus (Georgians, Circassians, Chechens, Azeris, etc. etc.) have dark hair and paler skin than what what we consider to be typically 'Caucasian.' Some even argue that Finns are a Turko-Mongoloid race. Basically the very term 'race' is a contentious issue which ought to be avoided, especially in areas where an enormous amount of racial mixing has happened, eg. the Mediterranean coast and interior, Russia, China, etc. And yes many Tuareg, even those with 'dark' or more correctly 'red' skin have brown and less often green eyes. Blond, fair skinned Berbers are not uncommon. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:04, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

This "White Guy" argument is nothing short of uninformed and, at worst, plain stupidity. My experience in Iraq has shown me the folly of characterizing a race or nationality by a single archetype. In Iraqi villages, I have met with Iraqi citizens with blue eyes, pale skin and red hair. Interested, I questioned regarding thier ethnicity and was surprised to discover that they considered themselves to be Arab. It forced me to re-evaluated the way I visualized the Iraqi people and, by extension, the world. There ARE white Arabs, there ARE dark-skinned Britons and there ARE blue-eyed Africans. Just because the picture does not reflect the majority doesn't mean it needs to be changed; however, a notation stating that the majority of the Tuareg do appear dark-skinned may be appropriate.

North africans are not black people they look like near east people and do so beacause of climate and there being no need to have the black skin and features of sub sahran africans much north africa has a dry climate hot summers chilly winters climate dictates how people look that is why they lack the features of sub saharan features most black people namely african americans have little understanding of this, and that north africa looks like near eastern peoples with caucasoid features and skin tones ranging from white to medium brown which is not all that different from near east people,and there are studies that state it good chance light skin arose in north africa not europe or the near east but afrocentrics with there propaganda keep trying to sheild the truth.From the earliest ancient egyiptans envolked sterotypes on berbers and nubians they had nubians all haveing extra black skin and big lips and all berbers haveing fair skin and blue eyes though both these dont p always only show these features many nubians look like what we would .--Mikmik2953 (talk) 00:39, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Saying North Africans are not "black", is true. However, saying that light skin arose in North Africa, that is completely false. In reality, black is not a race but a color. Many of the pictures and statues of the ancient Egyptians are actually dark-skinned and thick-lipped, with features very similar to the "Sub-Saharan" Africans. The "Sub-Saharan" Africans also can have varying features and complexions. They range from light, medium tone, and very dark. Also, the ancient Egyptians probably did evoke stereotypes on the Nubians, or Berbers. If they did indeed, it was beacause ancient Egypt always was at constant rival with the Nubians. Today, although many North Africans are dark-skinned, most of them are not. The Arabs, Persians, Greeks, Macedonians who came to conquer Egypt and spread Islam, mixed with the original populace to produce the modern-day people of North Africa. That is why they don't look like the original people that were there thousands of years ago. Quimbaraquimba (talk) 02:04, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

There's something that none of you are aware of. The Tuaregs are the RED people. From their own point of view they are "zaghaghan," RED. All Saharan peoples think of themselves as "red" people (Maures, Tubus, Amhara, etc.). This has little to do with the actual color of their skin. The majority of Tuaregs are so "dark" that they are considered "blacks" when they come to America. But from their own point of view, and in their own skin color classification, they are "red." Many of them may seem "lighter" than Sub-Saharan peoples, but they are generally much darker than Mediterranean peoples. Tuaregs have a variety of skin colors, but they think of themselves as "red." They are neither "black" nor "white," but "red." I suspect the white guy with the blue eyes is a European! FoxezandHedgehogs (talk) 05:36, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Amhara do not think of themselves as red people. Their color range is about the same as African-Americans. (Compare Haile Selassie with Menelik II.)Amhara are also not Saharan people. They are agriculturalist who live mainly in the very green Ethiopian highlands (Shoa, Hare, etc.). Other Ethiopians, such as the Afar people, are Saharans but do not consider themseles red ("Keyy" in Amharic) —Preceding unsigned comment added by RolandHR (talkcontribs) 01:35, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

North Africans, Berbers and Tuaregs (ancestors) were considered Caucasoid because of their linguistic and physical connections to people across the north of Africa and up the Levantine Corridor to the Caucasus. While the Caucasoid term is not generally used, the idea is that there were people who moved up from Central Africa to Horth Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and the Caucausus, and up into Europe. The fact that these peoples included great variety over time does not mean that it was invalid to see them as having historical connections. DNA studies have shown bi-directional migrations along the Levantine Corridor and repeated mixings of peoples in those areas; this is the way they share a deep genetic past.--Parkwells (talk) 17:08, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Berbers & race[edit]

Of course, they are light or white skinned. Berbers, from which the Taureg come, of their original type are white. Being in Africa does not make one black. ON the other hand, referring to non-Berbers: Of course, across north Africa, from Morocco to Egypt one finds a range of colors, from white to a medium brown. Dogru144 02:36, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Tuaregs are the "red" people. Saharans think of themselves as the "red" people. Tuaregs do not think of themselves as "white." If Americans or Europeans want to think of Tuaregs as "light-skinned," this is a racial prejudice, and does not reflect the indigenous skin color system of the Tuaregs. When they come to Europe or America, they are perceived as "black." That's our ethnocentrism, and not theirs. FoxezandHedgehogs (talk) 05:39, 25 December 2007 (UTC)


Is it possible to add a cultural refrence section here? Frank Herbert's Dune might be appropriate since FH's Fremen are said to be inspired by the Tuareg.. --V. Joe 16:19, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I think this would be a good piece of information to post on the Dune page (for many Dune fans would find this piece of information interesting), but I do not think it should be posted here... --(Mingus ah um 19:41, 16 May 2006 (UTC))
Agree with Mingus ah um (I like your username, BTW!). — mark 20:20, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Ethnic classification[edit]

"...and that predominantly Middle Eastern and/or Indigenous African Tamasheq speakers qualify as "Tuareg"" I don't really like this wording, as it would almost seem to imply that Tuareg are not indigenous to Africa, and cause confusion. I think I would prefer it either be reverted, or changed in some way to make it more clear that by indeginous they are referring to the people who were in a specific region before the Tuareg. Dalrymple 08:42, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Answering or completing what says before, sometime between 100.000 and 20.000 years b.c. the northwest part of Africa was a forrest area, with running rivers. People living in that area moved to the very close islands of Canary ( see Kanarii, Atlas Mountains) People forming the ethnical stratus of nowadays Canary´s population (those claiming native descendency) shows a wide range of fisical characteristics in wich is easily to find subsaharian (black),proto-german white-blue-eyed and bereber, and any mixture between all that. Scientists recognize three different human groups conforming the native population of the isles. My family is of recognized native ascendence and some of us are usually taken as "german or norwegians", others as black-brown haired berebers, etc... We are in fact a human group formed by cultural and genetical exchange occurred in the northwest african area at least 10.000 to 5000 thousands years ago or before. First europeans arriving to the islands noticed many of the natives being of nordic looking, blond, blue eyed and tall. Later anthropological studies stated cro-magnon type or proto-german. Possibly some first waves of pale-skin germanic-arian type coming into europe also did their way through northen Africa to what is today Sahara desert. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:34, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Gender roles[edit]

I recently saw this TV documentation about Tuareg or lets say Imuhaq, and it mentioned quite a few interesting things about gender roles, like that a woman is looked at as not normal if she has the same lover over a long time, and that the women are not covering their faces while the men are, only the bride is allowed to see her husbands face, and more that was generally contrasting the usual islamic, christian or jewish habits/morals, (and that even though the Tuareg are also called muslims). To find out how much this documentation says the truth i tried to read here on Wikipedia, but i couldnt find much on the gender topic, maybe someone who know more likes to drop a few lines with sources. thanks,would be inetresting

Where/when (channel, time, nation of origin, etc) did you see this documentary? --(Mingus ah um 19:31, 29 June 2006 (UTC))
It seems that a lot of this is "common knowledge", however I too would like a good source, at least a name for this documentary, or more preferably a proper article in an accredited anthropological magazine or similar before making any changes to the article. -- Dalrymple 22:55, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I was looking for a good descreption for wikipedia's content, and you had already found it "common knowledge". That is maybe a perfect descreption for wikipedia [Britannica ..]'s content. Read3r 20:25, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
See ethnograpies on the Tuareg, esp. Jeremy Keenan (citations given above in 'ethnographies' section). 'The Tuareg are also called Muslims'> correction: The Tuareg consider themselves Muslims; i.e they are Muslims. It is true that women don't practice veil, although women of nobel status cover their heads and chin and often maintain a spatial distance from men of lower social standing. Men hardly ever unveil; some even go to sleep with the veil on; they eat and drink behind the veil and refrain from smoking cigarettes, taking tobacco snuff instead primarily because it interferes with the veil. However many men do unveil inside their houses if elder in-laws are not present. Similarly women cover their heads infront of their fathers-in-law. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:52, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Ph.D. in interculturalism here. Long experience in social anthropology, identity issues and gender roles. I´m from the Canary Islands, just at the west coast of Sahara desert. We are now of spanish nationality and we do wear clothes and live like europeans. But we are socially very different, no resources to be mentioned now, but anyone knows that usually the women, and specially grandmothers, are the head of the family, the one who organizes and give approvement to family members and their actions. Not following their considerations would mean emotional isolation of the person. That is the rule, still, inheritated generation after generation wich still goes on after 500 years of european occupation. We do speak words in our spanish canarian dialect wich are the same or very similar to bereber languages and the tuareg writting is to be seen in many caves here. Ceramic and other artifacts are created and decorated the same way like in many bereber tribes in Africa. The big difference between us and them is that islam never did it to the Canary Isl. so of that we have kept of our culture we believe is similar to the culture before the arabs or islam religion arriving to northwest Africa. So I could confirm the female supremacy in "Touareg" society as a distinctive. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:01, 15 September 2007 (UTC)


Someone removed "camel breeders" from the list of traditional occupations that some still practice. Was this wrong? or just an arbitrary deletion? I can't find an apparently relavant edit summary, and there have been a lot of edits since I last checked the article 2 months ago, so I don't know who did this. - Jmabel | Talk 00:58, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

I removed this following statement, because it is not accurate since it a public thought not a scholars's opinion, and furthermore, it can be undertaken in the "tifinagh-article" to give the other opionions: its origins may lie with the Punic script Read3r 19:49, 13 August 2006 (UTC) I also removed the words "midlle easter indegenous african [Tamasheq]", because it is misleading since there are no middle eastern tamasheq, and because there are no unindegenous or non-african tamasheq.Read3r 19:58, 13 August 2006 (UTC)


Why the recent change of image in the Infobox? I preferred the other one. The new one is a bit intimidating. - Jmabel | Talk 02:10, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Population too low[edit]

J'aimerai juste dire que la population touareg au Niger se compte en millions, contrairement à ce qui est écrit dans votre article. Je ne peux pas dire exactement combien, mais déjà les chiffre donnés par le gouvernement du Niger, qui eux même sont politisés, disent qu'il y a 10% de touareg au Niger. Donc vous même vous dites qu'il y a 13 000000 de personnes au Niger, alors peuple touareg va être au moins 1.300.000 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 21 November 2006.

Attempted translation of the above: I would just like to say that the Tuareg population in Niger amounts to millions, contrary with what is written in your article. I cannot say exactly how much, but merely the figure given by the government of Niger, which is, itself, politicized, says that Niger is 10% Tuareg. Thus, you, even you, say that there are 13 000000 people in Niger, so Tuareg people will be at least 1.300.000 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 21 November 2006.

Translated by Jmabel | Talk; I'm not fluent in French, so I might have missed something, but I think I got it right. - Jmabel | Talk 21:30, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Population counts for Tuaregs are difficult. Guidebooks (such as Bradt's Mali and Niger and Lonely Planet's West Africa) give numbers ranging from hunderd thousand to millions. It's really impossible to count them at the moment. So we can only guestimate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:40, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Morocco and its Tuareg population[edit]

Morocco has a very significant Tuareg population inhabiting the southern portion of its country, near cities like Agadir and Ouarzazate. I heard that the figures were quite high. Can someone look into this? I also read that the total range of the Tuareg population is estimated at around 7 million (throughout Africa's Sahara/Sahel region). I'll try to find that link on the population figure. And I'll try to find articles on the significance of Morocco's Tuareg population. But if some manages to get information before me. Adding it would be greatly appreciated. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Pinochii (talkcontribs) 11 December 2006.

One thing that does make numbers quite tricky is the lack of clear definition of who is a Tuareg: the degree to which it is a matter of ancestry, language, way of life, etc. This is a topic where good sources are hard to come by and (sadly) bad sources are sometimes easy to come by. But best of luck. - Jmabel | Talk 01:42, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
The population in the Agadir region is not Targi as such, but is Berber, although for tourism purposes they go for the confusion. collounsbury 15:18, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Tuareg are a Berber group, much like the Shilha to whom Collunsbury is referring to. In any case, there are no Tuaregs in Morocco, at least no official data has confirmed there being a population present. Most of the "Blue Men" are actually Shilha playing dress up. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:27, 9 April 2007.


Being cross-border nomads, do they have citizenship? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:49, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

Yes. collounsbury 15:19, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Cut potentially slanderous statement[edit]

I cut the following from the "arts" section: "They also dry camel feces and turn it to a form of jewerly." (sic) There was no citation. It seems somewhat unlikely, and, if false, could be seen as slanderous. If there is a solid citation, then I stand corrected. Otherwise, it should not be in the article. - Jmabel | Talk 07:14, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

The Salt Trade[edit]

I think this article should talk more about the Tuaregs' historical involvement in the salt trade, which is a primary source of income for them. Since for many Tuareg see the annual to semiannual migration to buy salt and sell it as a cultural identity, there should be more about it in this article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 04:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

"related groups" info removed from infobox[edit]

For dedicated editors of this page: The "Related Groups" info was removed from all {{Infobox Ethnic group}} infoboxes. Comments may be left on the Ethnic groups talk page. Ling.Nut 17:21, 19 May 2007 (UTC)


Hi folks,

Added lots on social structure which, while I'm SURE if can be improved, was edited shortly therafter. Here are the changes:

As in much of West Africa, the Tuareg once held slaves (éklan / Ikelan in Tamasheq, Bouzou in Hausa, Bella in Songhai). These slave classes are darker than the generally brown-skinned Tuareg, and their genesis is varried and unclear. Some were enslaved as prisoners of war or their progeny, though most probably represented Songhay, Djerma and Hausa communites conquered as the Tuareg moved south beginning in the 11th century CE. These éklan formed a distinct class is Tuareg and other nomadic societies, remaining in sedentary communities, tending date palms, livestock, mines, or salt ponds between visits of the Tuareg nobility. In this sense, éklan formed distinct sub-communities: a class held in an inherited serfdom like condition, common in pre-colonial West Africa. French colonial expansion began the process of liberating these communities from the Tuareg Tels, but this was more in the interest of "pacification" of the generally hostile Tuareg than a blanket liberation of slaves.

changed to---------------

As did many other ethnic groups in West Africa, the Tuareg once held slaves (éklan / Ikelan in Tamasheq, Bouzou in Hausa, Bella in Songhai). Members of these former slave classes have a more sub-Saharan appearance than the Tuareg, and generally darker skin. Tuareg skin color in general is considerably darker than most Mediterranean Berbers, and lighter, in general, than sub-Saharan populations. The Tuareg refer to themselves as "red-skinned," like most other Saharan peoples including the Maures, Tubu, and Amhara. Slaves were taken as prisoners of war as the Tuareg moved south beginning in the 11th century CE, and many slaves may have originated among Songhay, Djerma and Hausa communities, groups that also held slaves. These éklan once formed a distinct social class in Tuareg society. Slaves lived near their owners as domestic servants and herders, and functioned as part of the family, with close social interactions. Some Tuareg noble and vassal men married slaves, and their children became freemen. In this sense, éklan formed distinct sub-communities: a class held in an inherited serfdom like condition, common in pre-colonial West Africa. French colonial governments passed legislation to abolish slavery but did not enforce it; this was more in the interest of dismantling the traditional Tuareg political economy, which depended on slave labor for herding, as well as "pacification" of the fiercely resistant Tuareg, than a blanket liberation of slaves.

N.B., the references weren't changed (or added to), but the entire meaning was altered. Bernus (1981), Klein ("Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa": 1998), Robin Maugham ("Slaves of Timbuktu": 1961), Flugstat (1983), etc, etc, all support several conclusions wiped out by this edit.

1) slave relationships were not always "familial". Tuareg (as other Saharan Nomadic peoples) controlled whole communites of bonded labor, and not just for hearding. Towns like Bilma and Ingall were almost entirely made up of bonded labor, and these social and economic relationships remain today. 2)Tuareg called themselves "White", though European racists would never identify them as such. 3)bonded communities were almost entirely darker skinned. 4)Tuareg (as other nomads, Moors, Fula, not to mention Bambara and other states) bought, sold, and held slaves in great numbers. By the 19th century (see the history of northern Nigeria) Tuaregs and others engaged in near constant "Razzia" raids with the express intent of taking slaves, many of whom were later sold or resettled to Tuareg controlled bonded communities. The "majority" of bonded communites were not taken as "war captives". This is simply untrue. 5)The repeated insistence that "other peoples did this" is beside the point. You should be able to state what Tuareg society was and where it is now, without making excuses.

If you disagree with these conclusions, please provide citations of reputable studies which support your view. If you can't do this, but insist on the general unsupported POV statements, this whole article is going to be referred for some kind of oversight. Which will likely involve a lot of people who have beef with the Tuaregs, and then we'll have a big mess in the other direction.

Look, I have A LOT of sympathy with the Tuareg peoples, but every culture (the USA? Slavery, Genocide) has its issues, and the Tuareg have had a problem with treating other communites rather badly. In the end, it's in the interests of Tuaregs themselves to deal with this and not make excuses. And on top of this, it's no way to write an encyclopedia.T L Miles (talk) 15:35, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

    • For those who read French, take a look at this Tuareg culture/history site's discussion of slavery Clearly modern Tuareg people find this a very touchy subject, but if you read the comments from the above article and from their discussion of the Timidria human rights group (which the commentators themselves say is a "black" tuareg group Here. The criticism is that "It wasn't/isn't" so bad, "they're just servants", "They need our protection", "they're trying to get funding from African Americans", and (my favorite) "all the great African leaders came from noble classes and all the despots came from slave classes". This is, in my opinion, crap. And I'm getting more ticked off the more I read the defence / minimization of this class system by SOME (I stress) in the Tuareg diaspora.

    • On the other side, please look at some of these following citations:
    • Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle. Sahara: A Natural History. Walker & Co. (2002).
      • Slaves were occasionally well treated, and manumission was relatively common. But they were also subject to random violence and arbitrary punishments. On the one hand, a Tuareg who mistreated his slave was badly thought of, and any slave who was discontented with his master merely had to cut the ear of the camel of the man whose slave he wished to become. As the master was responsible for his slave's action, he had to give the slave in compensation for the damaged camel, and in the process lost face. On the other hand, the Tuareg were known for their quick tempers, and might stab a slave in a moment of anger; for this, there was no punishment necessary. In the Tibesti region, "masters occasionally cut ligaments of their feet or toes, or drive thorns into the soles of their feet to make it impossible for them to run away."
      • The institution is deeply rooted in the life of the desert. As late as the 1950s, the nomadic social hierarchy of sheikhs or sultans' drum group leaders, nobles, vassals, haratin, and slaves, the same hierarchy that Ibn Battuta had encountered, the same hierarchy that the British explorer Mungo Park and the German Heinrich Barth found, had barely changed in a millennium. The English traveler Robin Maugham was told in the 1940s by a slave in Timbuktu: "Though I know that I am free, I also know that I still belong to my master. I know that when the French leave the country, my master will take me again," which almost certainly happened. Most upper-caste Tuareg of the Ahaggar and Tassili n'Ajjer regions still had slaves to take care of flocks and herds and to perform various domestic tasks in the 1960s. A cynic in Timbuktu said in 1998, "Yes, they freed the slaves in 1968, but not all of them have been told yet."""
      • The haratin are the settled side of the nomads, tending to Tuareg gardens. Whether they are slaves is a semantic point. They are certainly lowly vassals with few rights. They are born to their role, and there's not exactly a free labor market for gardeners in the oases. They are generally darker than the Tuareg, but usually have Berber, not negroid, features. They work as sharecroppers. Their "pay" is one-fifth of what they produce, plus whatever they can conceal, which is sometimes substantial. Nevertheless, they are generally malnourished; the "general torpor of oasis life," which the early Europeans noticed so disapprovingly --- most oasis dwellers seemed to spend most of the day sleeping and most of the night gossiping --- was almost certainly caused by continuous malnutrition.
      • Upper-class Tuareg, certainly, had --- and have --- little interest in doing the kind of labor appropriate for slaves or haratin. They are still fond of quoting the proverb, commonly but quite wrongly ascribed to the Koran, that "when the plough enters a house, so does the condition of the family become vile." The Tuareg work with camels, but domestic or agricultural work is completely unacceptable.
      • Or see Orlando Patterson. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Harvard University Press (1982) ISBN 067481083X
        • p46 Without the master, as the Tuareg insist, the slave does not exist. The slave came to obey him not only out of fear, but out of the basic need to exist
        • p.176 The light-skinned Tuareg and related groups had decidedly racist attitudes toward the Negroes they conquered
        • pp178-9. Among the Tuareg there was a carefully observed agreement that fellow Tuaregs when captured would either be released or ransomed and only Negro (sic) captives would be enslave.
        • p355 Figures for slave populations in Tuareg communities. (gives 19th century figure as %30 - %70)
      • Finally, REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL A global alliance against forced labour Global Report under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work 2005 INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE 93rd Session 2005 Report I (B) INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE GENEVA This Report may also be consulted on the ILO Internet site ( ISBN 92-2-115360-6 ISSN 0074-6681 First published 2005
        • Forced labour related to slavery and slave status 201. The linkage between “traditional” slavery and possible present-day forced labour is clearly a sensitive issue in Africa. It is principally in the Sahelian coun- tries of West Africa, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, that some concern has been expressed about alleged ongoing slavery-like practices or discrimin- ation against descendants of slaves. 202. Indeed, the predicament of West Africans of slave descent, particularly those still suffering from discrimination and labour exploitation, has received considerable attention over the past decade. Recent reports tend to situate such cases in their social con- text, in contrast to earlier more sensationalist cov- erage of the issue. Anthropologists have recorded both improvements in the treatment of slave descend- ants and continuing exploitation. Local organizations have made significant efforts to assist these groups, as have some trade unions. Governments, for their part, have responded in different ways, depending on the particularities of the national situation. 203. Research has focused on pastoral groups, in which people deemed to be of slave status are at- tached to relatively isolated nomadic households.""
        • They may work as household servants, tend live- stock, or undertake agricultural tasks. In some situations, it appears that women are affected more than men, providing much the same services as did slaves in the past – collecting water, preparing food and tending livestock. But a whole range of services can be required of slave descendants, whether men, women or children – both in the household and in the fields.87 Problems are reported to persist among certain ethnic and linguistic groups in which the marked differences in status between slaves and slave owners even in the pre-colonial period have persisted through to modern times.88 In some cases, descent- based discrimination may not result directly in im- position of forced labour, but involve other practices that perpetuate the dependence of slave descendants on their master, thus severely constraining their al- ternatives. Examples include a prohibition on in- heritance of property or on ownership of significant numbers of livestock, and on marrying women of non-slave descent.89 Threats and other punishments are reportedly used to prevent slave descendants from fleeing. But diverse social and psychological factors can also come into play, such as fear of supernatural retaliation for not respecting the religious “duty” to work for the same employer or fear of the unknown world beyond the familiar confines of the traditional master’s household.
        • 204. ILO research in Niger revealed that the Bella, descendants of the black slaves of the Tuaregs, could perceive their situation fatalistically as one of be longing to their masters, and being dependent on them for everything.90 The attitude of the “masters” was also worth noting: some lamented the burden of continuing social obligations towards former slaves.
        • 87. Research in Niger, gathered through focus-group discussions, indicated a wide range of duties, for which respondents reported an average of 16 working hours per day. The study distinguished between two different forms of contemporary servitude in Niger: first, an “active” system of economic discrimination based on a racial ideology in the Tuareg and Arab nomadic pastoral communities; and second, a more “passive” system of social and political discrimination practiced primarily, though not exclusively, in sedentary communities. See A.R. Sékou; S. Adji: Étude sur le travail forcé en Afrique de l’Ouest: Le cas du Niger, DECLARATION Working Paper (forthcoming). 88. For example, the Fula or Fulani in countries across West Africa; the Tuareg or Kel Tamasheq in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger; the Toubou in Chad and Niger; and the Arabic-speaking community in Mauritania. 89. Recent evidence from different African countries reveals that descendants of slaves who are not nowadays subjected to any form of forced labour frequently feel discriminated against when they seek to marry the daughters of families deemed to be of “higher” social status. Dottridge, op. cit. 90. Sekou and Adji, op. cit.

Yes, it certainly is odd for an American to read some of the apologetics for all sorts of feudal practices that would be/have been criticized here, but since the Tuaregs are classified as a traditional, nomadic, indigenous! society at odds with the majority sedentary society, they are treated as somehow privileged, sacred people. Certainly looks as if feudalism and slavery offer more to the upper classes and masters than they do to the lower classes and enslaved, as they did in Europe and the US as well. While linguistics, DNA analysis, archaeology and written history provide overwhelming evidence for change and movements among peoples, with huge migrations, shifts in power - did Genghis Khan ask for permission from the peoples he conquered?, etc., these days "traditional" societies are somehow treated as those that should never have to change. They changed before any Europeans entered the picture, and will change after. Where do you mark the start and end of appropriate change? --Parkwells (talk) 17:42, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

Traditional social stratification: contributions needed[edit]

In the article, Tuareg slavery is explained as a serf-like condition. But serfs are bonded to masters through the land under their villages, while Iklan (slaves) are personal property. Most of the year they run their own villages. Serfs pass on their own names and personal wealth to their children, while Iklan get their names (often still today) not from their biological parents, but from their owners, and, in case of death of a slave, it is usually also the owner who takes and distributes whatever little private belongings the Iklan had, signifying that Iklan don't really own ANYTHING themselves, except through their owners. Serfs on the other hand, are obliged to give away large chunks of their crops, and pay other taxes to their lords, partly in the form of unpaid labour. But they also own private stuff, including their own genealogy. Iklan often work decades or their whole lives in order to pay for the end of their slavery (manumission) while serfs don't, can't pay for the end of their slavery, because they are not slaves.

Also, often upper cast Tuareg deny that their Iklan (slaves) are real Muslims. (Because otherwise, they would have to end their slavery immediately). Consequently, Iklan-slaves are often not allowed to wear the symbols of faith, and neither to build their own little Mosque, let alone to lead prayers. While serfs are allowed full freedom of religion amongst themselves. Also, serfs have freedom to go to school, and to be judges in internal disputes, slaves have not. (If traditions are kept up fully.)

So there is a real difference. Serfs are fundamentally different from slaves. And both forms of social relation do exist today, rurally often in large numbers. And everybody is very much aware of who is Iklan, and who is serf. It's not always 100 % implemented, it depends very much on how progressive their masters are, but even slaves who have 'soft' masters, run a big risk that if their masters get in trouble or die, they get passed on to another master, which might or not be much harsher. Unlike the cut the donkey tonge story suggests, slaves have absolutely no influence on who is their master.

While serfs have, by choosing to negotiate to become the serf of some other master. Or by somehow acquiring land rights for him or herself. If on the other hand a slave would somehow legally acquire land rights, then, in customary law, that right would automatically be owned by his owner.

I think we need to adapt the main article to reflect this?Pieter Felix Smit (talk) 22:14, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

External link to Tuareg Culture and News[edit]

I added an external link to Tuareg Culture and News because it provides many additional sources and articles on the Tuareg people, and is an excellent resource base for research and study of the Tuareg people. This website lists helpful, relevant, reliable, accurate, on-topic sources on the Tuaregs, with a complete listing of books written about the Tuaregs in English, and many other relevant sources that are not included in the Wikipedia article on Tuaregs. This website makes the Tuareg literature in English accessible to English-speakers - the majority of resources are in French. The website provides a great deal of useful, helpful, informative, and factual information that permits English-speakers (and others) to learn more about Tuareg culture. This site includes reviews and interviews. It includes the full details of verifiable sources. It is not a commercial website, and is intended solely for educational purposes, focused on the Tuareg people. FoxezandHedgehogs (talk) 15:21, 23 December 2007 (UTC)


The Blue Men, "sometimes said on Western Sahara" besides their own , I say what the f*ck is this? Mallerd (talk) 21:32, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

What is their race?[edit]

I've heard so many things here but what genetic studies are there? What do they mean by "red skinned"? If they aren't black and they're north african caucasians why are they so much darker? Are they an admixture population like african americans?YVNP (talk) 06:46, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

Photo Vandalism[edit]

The opening photo has been vandalized, featuring a cigarette like thing sticking out of the man's mouth. Please fix or remove this image. —Preceding unsigned comment added by NitricAcidandTHC (talkcontribs) 19:51, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I checked and before it was there, there was a normal village scene. What's there now looks like photoshopped vanadalism. (talk) 22:38, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

"Bonded Castes and Slaves"[edit]

Can someone tell me why this sentences:

"n general, Tuareg skin color is darker than most Mediterranean Berbers, and lighter than most sub-Saharan populations."

Is under the "Bonded Castes and Slaves" category? I don't understand the relevance it has to that category of really any other, unless someone wants to add a "genetics" category and add a bit more than that sentence to it. --Criticalthinker (talk) 10:03, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

This section has been repeatedly edited and re-edited, as the connection of "race", "darkness", and caste/slavery is a very touchy topic in Tuareg communities and among their neighbors. Most academic non-Tuareg observers believe there is a strong "racial" component to who was in which pre-colonial caste. Much of that has changed, but much still remains.T L Miles (talk) 19:39, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Criticalthinker . The sentence on colour was just added by somebody without any reason. As with all articles about Africa or African people, this one is subject to various controversies over skin color. And, like all such articles, it attracts random 'race' comments that lack scientific validity. The word 'Tuareg', like other ethnographic or racial terms (such as 'black', 'African' 'sub-Saharan', 'Egyptian', 'Berber', 'Caucasian', 'white' 'ethnic' 'race' 'tribe' or 'Mediterranean') is fluid in meaning and not easily classifiable. As such it is the subject primarily of the art of politics rather than any genuinely scientific taxonomy. This political vagueness makes Africa-related articles a ready target for all kinds political agenda, in particular the competing claims of black and white nationalism which have their routes in the racial politics of the Americas. Ackees (talk) 13:33, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Vandalism reverted[edit]

I recently made a series of edits to reverse some pretty massive vandalism that stood for a couple of weeks. I've done my best to preserve the several edits that occurred since that time. My apologies if I accidentally reverted any good edits in the process. - Jmabel | Talk 06:45, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Titling contradiction[edit]

While checking recent changes, I noticed that the traditional housing section has two completely disparate listings for ahaket. Various google searches did not help, because all the pages I found either a)do not mention it or b)Are copies of wikipedia The two definitions clearly can't both be right. Does anyone have more information? By the way, neither definition is sourced.Anhydrobiosis (talk) 02:05, 4 June 2011 (UTC)


There should be an indication of how the word is pronounced. (talk) 08:17, 6 September 2011 (UTC)


The introduction does not meet the Wikipedia guideline for the lead section [1]. Can I propose that the bulk of the etymology section be moved into the body of the article, and an additional short summary related to the rest of the content be constructed? A good example would be the lead section of the article Berber people. Chalky (talk) 01:16, 18 October 2011 (UTC)


Total population is given 1.2 million, but when I sum up the country specific populations I get 2.36 million, almost double the "total". That cannot be right. (talk) 22:21, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

The main problem is that the entire article is mostly a heap of unreferenced trash. If you add up unreferenced number and the total does not agree with another unreferenced number, the problem is that all these numbers are unreferenced. So you should remove them, it is better to have no content than to have unreferenced content. --dab (𒁳) 08:58, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

It seems like the population number was derived from the number of Tuareg speakers, an unreferenced number of 5.7 million (also at Tuareg languages, unreferenced). I tried to trace the reference and found 1,233,169 as the population total of speakers of ISO 639-3: tmh from 2009. (Lewis, M. Paul. "Ethnologue report for language code: tmh". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. Retrieved 8 April 2012. ) --Korbnep (talk) 16:30, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

First lines at odds with rest of article...[edit]

The article is really good on explaining all the skin colours and the cast system and the slavery that never went away.

That means that yes, the Tuareg are dominated by a group of Berber origin. But my guess is that the vast majority of Tuaregs is much darker skinned then Berbers.

It also pops up the question: what is a Tuareg? A group of Tuareg speaking farmers, identifying themselves as Tuareg Vassals, or as slaves from the Tuareg (which quite a few did to me), who are yearly forced to pay a large part of their crops, to nomadic Tuaregs who claim to be their masters, are these people Tuareg? Of Course they are! What else are they? Most don't speak any other language, and their whole history, live, even their death is totally dominated by Tuareg culture!

Similar arguments against Tuaregs being nomads. Many Berber Tuareg, identifying themselves as nomads, only visit 'their' cattle camp a few times a year by 4 wheel drive, checking on how their lower cast dependents are managing the camels, and bringing them food and presents and medecins (for the camels) and news.

So how many are black, how many Berber? The figure given in the article is probably far from correct, if you include the 'dependent' Tuareg. To the berber Tuareg, most upper cast Tuareg from the Haggar mounbtains and form Niger are black. And also those Tuareg often 'own' dependent people like house keepers, farmers, etc. One black Tuareg from Niger boasted to me that he was in big trouble, becuase more then a hundred Tuareg 'ex-slaves' depended on him, while non of them had any income due to drought. On one occasion, Berber Tuaregs did not allow me to fotograph their black family members, which we visited in a village south of Timbuktu, because that would give the wrong impression about how many of them are black or not.

That means that Tuareg are partly nomadic, and partly Berber. Probably the majority of Tuareg are neither nomads, nor Berbers. Which is , inter alia, also readable from the rest of the article.

Do we change the first sentences?

The article misses the distinction between 'ethnic group' (ie Berber), and 'people', meaning all those sharing a language, economy and political system. The lead of the article describes the Tuareg as if they were an ethnic group. Which is a very narrow vision, that deserves expansion by adding a few words there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pieter Felix Smit (talkcontribs) 12:13, 13 June 2012 (UTC)


Should be a mention of the declaration of independence of Azawad in Northern Mali? --Error (talk) 21:16, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Matrilineal ? Really ?[edit]

" Some Tuareg noble and vassal men married slaves, and their children became freemen. "

Yeah, that sounds like almost any traditional society.

"The Tuareg are "largely matrilineal"."

Oh, yeah, right. So this is Tuareg Bigshot Jr, his father was Tuareg Bigshot, and his mother was.... some slave, who cares what her name was, Sally Hemmings Mbutu perhaps, something like that.

These two statements would appear to be seriously inconsistent.Eregli bob (talk) 05:57, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

In traditional Tuareg society the child of a slave woman would inherit the status of the mother, irrespective of the status of the father. In reality such a child with a 'noble' father might advance to a higher serf or vassal status, but wouldn't be a 'noble'. In the unlikely event of a 'noble' woman marrying a serf, her children would be 'noble'. A bit like Jewishness being matrilinear. Urselius (talk) 19:59, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Interesting population growth[edit]

Interesting that this article, between 31 May 2013 and 3 August 2013 saw the population of Tuareg in Algeria climb from "25,000 (1987)" to "25,000-150,000 (1987)". (talk) 23:53, 4 August 2013 (UTC)


Can someone clarify (I mean update the article) as to whether this section is a sampling of their diet or meant to be comprehensive. Other parts of the article mention cattle and livestock but there is no mention of meat in the food section. Arbalest Mike (talk) 17:07, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Ill fix it. Magherbin (talk) 20:47, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Genetics for ethnic groups RfC[edit]

For editors interested, there's an RfC currently being held: Should sections on genetics be removed from pages on ethnic groups?. As this will almost certainly result in the removal of the "genetics" section from this article, I'd encourage any contributors to voice their opinions there. --Katangais (talk) 20:04, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Tuareg people/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

An anon recently complained (in French) that our count of the Tuareg is way too low; can someone knowledgable have a look? - Jmabel 21:36, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Substituted at 18:42, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Tuareg people. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete the "External links modified" sections if they want, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{sourcecheck}} (last update: 15 July 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 03:09, 6 December 2017 (UTC)

External links modified (January 2018)[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Tuareg people. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete the "External links modified" sections if they want, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{sourcecheck}} (last update: 15 July 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 16:34, 23 January 2018 (UTC)