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The Grassfields of Cameroon



The Land
- The Great Sahara Desert
- The Biggest Desert
- Blown Dry
- More than Sand Dunes
- Window to the Past
- The Tuareg
  - Introduction
  - Traditional life
  - Camels
  - Salt
  - Oasis
  - Clothing
  - Women
  - Writing and song
- Two ways to count to 10

Married women own their dwellings

Most Tuareg live in tents made of goat skins or palm fiber mats. When a woman marries, her family makes a tent for her. The tent belongs exclusively to her; she's responsible for its care and upkeep. In fact, men are considered guests in their wives' homes.

Tuareg tents make mobile homes

How often a nomadic Tuareg family moves depends on the weather, season, and quality of pasture. Though they don't stay put, families remain within designated territories.

Before colonial rule, slaves did the hard work of moving. Now even noble women often move themselves. Usually a Tuareg woman can pack up and move her entire household on two donkeys or one camel. It takes about two hours. Light, non-breakable baskets, enamelware and plastic help make moving easier.

A bed's the heart of a Tuareg home

A bed is the major piece of furniture in a Tuareg home. The husband and wife sleep on the bed; children sleep on mats on the ground. When the family moves, the bed is the first thing assembled and the last thing taken apart. Here, you can see its many parts and its mat.

A woman's wealth was once contained in calabashes

A woman once received calabash bowls, made from dried gourds, at her wedding. She used them to store food and displayed them on her bed during celebrations. In times of trouble, women sold calabashes for quick cash. Today many women have replaced fragile calabashes with durable enamel pots. The Tuareg family sets a table with one bowl, many spoons

When the Tuareg serve a meal, everyone eats with his or her own spoon from a large common bowl. Occasionally the Tuareg eat goat meat, but their main foods are milk, cheese and millet. The milk and cheese comes from their camel and goat herds. Most millet comes through trade with the south.

Millet may be made into bread or gruel. Sometimes the Tuareg pound millet and add goat cheese and dates. Then they roll this mixture into balls to make a tasty "trail mix." Tuareg also buy prepared foods like canned tomato sauce, mackerel and macaroni.


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