Posts filed under ‘Africa’

Moussa ag Assarid

La Vanguardia is a castilian-language newspaper from Catalunya that I often read when having lunch at the bakery near the archives. The backpage always has an interview with some interesting person with a fascinating life. Usually people who make a difference in their communities.  Today’s feature was about Moussa ag Assarid.

MoussaLike his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Moussa was a shepherd in the sahara, part of a nomadic Berber tribe called the Touareg.  One day, when he was a child, the Paris-Dakar rally went through his camp and a book fell out of a French journalist’s bag. Moussa rushed to return the book to her but the journalist gave it to him as a gift and explained what it was about. It was the Little Prince. He vowed one day he would be able to read it himself. Two years later, after his mother died, he convinced his father to let him go to school. He walked 15 km every day until a teacher took pity on him and gave him a bed. A lady in the village fed him. His persistence paid off, he won a scholarship to study in France, has written a book and now studies management at the University of Montpellier. His book, Y’a pas d’embouteillage dans le désert! Chroniques d’un Touareg en France, became a huge hit in France and Moussa uses his new-found popularity to speak in defence of the nomadic pastoral tribes that live in the desert of North Africa.

In Europe, he cried when he saw running water for the first time. Until that day, he says, “every day of my life had been spent in the search and collection of water”. His mother died in a drought when he was twelve. Seeing water run from faucets was too powerful for him.  It still pains him when he sees elaborate water fountains. But what shocked him the most was the materialism of western society, the fast-paced life, our inability to live the here and now. The lack of human contact that lead so many to pay so that specialists can listen to our problems.
Moussa’s life is  one of those inspirational stories that make us think about our own life and sense of priorities. He’s going to be here in Barcelona next monday and we hope to catch his photography exhibit at Baïbars bookstore.

Click here for an interview with Moussa in French.

In Spanish, his book is called En el desierto no hay atascos: un Tuareg en la ciudad

February 1, 2007 at 8:43 pm 1 comment

To travel…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. Gilbert K. Chesterton

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Aldous Huxley

I’ve just finished reading Javier Reverte’s Vagabundo en África, a mix of travel notes, history of Africa and reflections on the state of Africa at the time Reverte spent two months criss-crossing through that great continent. Highly recommended. It made me wish I was brave enough to travel as he does.

His conclusion on travelling at the closing of his journey through the heart of Africa:

“Viajar prolonga tu vida, la llena de rostros y paisajes. Conoces hombres cobardes que deben vivir una vida valiente, y hombres valientes obligados a vivir como cobardes. “Viajar – escribió Aldoux Huxley – es descubrir que todo el mundo se equivoca. Cuando uno viaja, tus convicciones caen con tanta facilidad como las gafas; sólo que es más difícil volver a ponerlas en su sitio”.

Un largo viaje es también una suspensión en el vacío, por eso crea en ti una sensación de eternidad. Observas, como un “voyeur” impúdico, cuanto sucede a tu alrededor, y a la vez te implicas, te asombras, te estremeces, sientes la ternura de los hombres y también el temor a lo imprevisto. Te observas mientras miras fuera de ti.

Y viajar es también una forma de crear, porque retienes cuanto ves y cuanto oyes, en la memoria y en la retina, para intentar más tarde interpretarlo, como si fueras un artista, un pintor frente a los colores, frente a los rostros y las formas; un músico abierto a los sonidos, a las voces y los ritmos, o quizá y al fín, un poeta. El viaje nos convierte en seres libres; hace posible que nos veamos detenidos en el tiempo mientras el mundo corre a nuestro lado.

Y viajar es bailar, como bien dicen los Chichewas, sordo a todo aquello que no sea el son de una canción ignorada.

Elsewhere he says:

Hay veces, cuando viajas o emprendes una tarea creativa,, en las que te preguntas si el destino existe. Es una cuestión boba que no está de moda en estos tiempos de realidades matemáticas y de hombres seguros de su ciencia. Pero yo creo que existe. Y que es uno quien lo propicia.

October 28, 2006 at 4:10 pm 2 comments


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