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ANTA02H3 Study Guide - Azawagh Arabs, Haratin, Quran

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Maggie Cummings

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Mostly empty spot in the center of the map of West Africa lies the Azawagh region of
Niger, a sparsely populated stretch of savannah where the gently undulating
grasslands of the West African Sahel meet the drier harsher desert
Roughly the size of Austria but is home to only 85,000 people, predominantly from
four ethnic groups
The landscape against which Azawash Arab women pack their bodies until
overflowing with plentiful, moist fat and veiled folds of allure exhibits anything but
those bountiful traits to the outsider. Desolate, flat semi-desert under a giant dome
of blasting sky
Niger appears to one from greener climes to Azawagh Arabs the terrain that they
consider earths basic form is rich and diverse
Women could list dozens of local plants that were used to treat human illnesses
explaining in detail how the leaves or bark could be cooked, group. Or combined with
other ingredients to soothe all manner of complaints from constipation or scorpion
From December to march, the winds carry so much sand that the world turns into
an endemic yellowish-grey haze for weeks on end.
Wind is also the bearer of heat and coldness forces that reside in bodies and the
world that must always be kept in balance
Niger is today home to a patch work of distinct ethnic groups, comprising a
metropolitan desert world of different languages and customs, though all the groups
share a faith in Islam
Historically, the dominant ethnic group in the region has been the tuareg a better
known Saharan nomadic group whose indigo-turbaned men and silver-bejewelled
women have appeared in movies like the sheltering sky and beau gets
The Wodaabe, a group that became Muslim only recently, have been much
photographed by outsiders and have been featured in picture books and calendars of

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Africa, highlighting the way men bedeck themselves in jewellery, paint their faces,
and dance before young women to attract lovers
The Azawagh has known fighting in several periods of the culture. The violent
French colonization of the Tuareg at the start of the twentieth century.
Tuargeg has waged an off and on guerrilla war or more power and independence
within Niger
Although Arabs and Turaeg were at peace for much of the 20th century, violence
between the groups intensified again in the early 90s in the context of Tuareg revolts
against the government since Arabs own vehicles, guns and other resources that the
Tuareg needs
Tchin Tabaraden was established by the French in the middle of the century, and
Tassara by the Nigerian government in the 70s
Dialect of Arabic
From the middle east, however would not consider them pure Arabs
The people from Niger consider themselves pure Arabs. They belong to a group of
Arabic speakers across the Western parts of the Sahara desert known as Moors
Moor society coalesced between the 15th and 17th century in the North-western part of
the Sahara
Today their population make up one million and are the predominate population
Their increases are due to the droughts in the early 70s and 80s that forced people
into villages to get water and food, where they then stayed enjoying the goods around
Yemeni Arabs or Saudi Arabs are from the roots of Yemen and Saudi Arabia as
companions of the Prophet Muhammad
Among Azawagh Arabs there are three main castes
o1. The white or free Arabs
o2. The former slave caste called haratin
o3. The small artisan caste, also called blacksmiths in Western language

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The whiter your skin the higher rank you were
The existence of slavery has been crucial to the persistence of fattening, which is
only possible for girls who do not have to do household work
The haratin had not themselves taken up the practice of fattening their daughter,
but they nonetheless appreciated and strove for the same aesthetic
Tchin Tabarden consist of a grid of sandy lanes lined by adobe walls, behind each of
which stretches a yard of more sand with a mud house or tent
Flowing robes and turbans are what the men wear
As Rebecca did research she saw a group of six women who were waddling slowly
with sari-like hawlis. They had undoes with tiny ponytails framing their chubby
Light skin and supposedly prestigious Islamic descent, the Arabs considered
themselves superior to the dark skinned Hausa
Girls were weighed at a clinic, if they were underweight they would be rationed food
to become larger
There were many droughts so some of the girls were becoming smaller
A plump body was a highly desired feature of adult womanhood among all the ethnic
groups in the area: the Hausa, Tuareg, Wodaabe, Bouzou and Arabs
They often ate by stuffing their mouths full of couscous and swallowing it down with
large quantities of water, without chewing. Their hefty beautify and allure was
accentuated by several layers of cloth surrounding the lower half of their bodies
under the family hawlis
The process of getting fat begins in a routinized and enforced way early in a girls
There are two government elementary schools, on French and one Franco-Arabic and
a small market around the town center
This is a beautiful landscape filled with sand
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