Although Sahara is quite harsh place, there can be found people living there. The only ethnic capable to survive in the difficult conditions are Tuaregs.
Tuaregs are nomads, speaking its own Berber language, owning herds of camels. They used to be responsible for transporting goods throught eh Sahel from Mauretania to Sudan, Algeria or Guinea coast. Nowadays, traditions and customs are slowly changing, and some of them are leaving the nomad way of living and starting a new life at the cities around oasis. Nevertheless Tuaregs are still having their role in goods transportation. The salt from Taoudenni mine at Mali and Bilma mine at Niger is transported merely with camel caravan.
Tuaregs are sometimes called ‘bleu people’ because of their traditional blue dress. The color is not blue by accident, in a blue dress it’s the less hot. Tuaregs are normally covered all from the head to their feet. Men has a long scarf around their head, called taguelmoust. It’s a variation of turban. The only part visible out of it is usually the eyes. Taguelmoust is a good protection against sand, dust and hot, but it has a social meaning as well. It’s not acceptable for Tuareg with lower social position to show his face to Tuareg with higher social status. Women are all wearing black dress, covering their head by scarf. They like decorations from beaten silver. One of the most favorite designs is Agadez cross in all different forms.
Tuaregs lives in simple houses at short-term camps. They are moving very often as the herds of camels and goats. The families are living at camps together. They are building several types of buildings, but the most common are tents from lather, tight on wooden construction. The entrance is usually not covered, built from non-wind side. The floor is covered by mats. The closer surrounding is bordered by stones. The other common houses are huts from mats, close usual houses from West Africa. Houses are very modest, Tuaregs does not own much, a couple of containers to cook, leather pouches for water. They are sleeping directly on the ground covered by mats or leather. As there are quite warm nights, they don’t need more. They are cooking at open fire outside their houses. The only problem is with firewood. There is always lack of the wood on desert, so they are often using dried dung.
Tuaregs are originally herdsmen, and the herds are their living. It’s the traditional role of men to take care of herds. Once a time they have to sell some animals at local markets at oasis. For given money they are buying everything they need to their living, especially wheat for bread, salt, sugar and tea. They have to survive with that. They don’t have any other leftover to sell. Women are taking care of the houses, milking the goats, making butter which remains fresh much longer than milk in such hot environment. Women are also responsible for making leather, cooking and gathering water. Men and women roles are strictly defined. Tuaregs are usually Muslims. Men are often wearing traditional swords, the most valuable holding they have. Swords are inherited from parents to their children for generations, and it is believed they are protecting their owners by a force of all victories.