NEWS: 3rd Nov 2017
SES Lecture Review - Alistair Carr
On Monday 18th September, Alistair Carr gave an impressive account of an intrepid adventure in the Sahel where he narrowly missed guerrillas and landmines and gave a fascinating insight into the politics in the Manga, a wild and remote region of Africa. He met with the Tuareg people ‘the guardians of the Salt Road’ and was capably assisted by his Tubu guides when he travelled up to 50km a day in the camel saddle (don’t ask about the sores!) from dawn to dusk in order to keep to his strict three-week permit.
He enjoyed Tubu hospitality, found that tea making, pivotal to the local culture, is the best rehydration formula and slept in tents designed to cope with the harsh environment of the Manga.
Once the cusp of the 16th parallel was reached, north of which was firmly out of bounds, the expedition finally headed away from the Tuareg rebellion. He saw a treasure trove of rock art in the Air Mountains and at the Toronga encampment he was amused to hear that a woman’s role was to look after children, tend the goats and cook whilst a man needed only to find the money.
The octogenarian chieftain in the 19th century town of Laraba informed him that no white man had visited the area before and he discovered high above the town an ancient settlement with a number of archaeological sites.
The end of his journey was flagged when he sighted a plume of dust in the distance from a motorbike and his camel hoof struck a tarmac road and he then reached Bernin Kazoe. On leaving his Tubu guides and hitching a lift back to Zinder in a lorry, Carr asked them whether he would be safe and was robustly reassured that the Tubus would fight anyone who touched even a hair on his head. Fortunately, this proved unnecessary.
Alistair’s account was captivating, and he recounted his incredible journey and the people he met with passion and pride - he seized an opportunity to travel through this little known area, often the first white man in pockets of Africa to have escaped colonialism with no trace of westernisation. We look forward to hearing where his travels take him in the future!
Story by Henrietta Thorpe