Lucia has something to say

Monday, October 30, 2006

Answering Some Questions

Maggie asked if the women accept their position in society, the “order of things,” or whether they question it. The way I understand it, Tuareg society is matrilineal but not matriarchal. I don’t have a real understanding of what this means. My sense is that the women don’t question things much. There’s a separateness between men and women, and I’m not sure what role Islam plays in that.

What bothered me much more was that the Tuaregs have slaves, Bella tribespeople from other parts of the country that have been in their families for decades or more. The Tuareg women don’t cook or make fires or do much work. The slaves do it. So, the women will be sitting around while slaves do all the work–chopping wood, cooking, milking cows, etc.

The thing is, if you ask them if they have slaves, they’ll say no. If you ask them if so-and-so belongs to their family, they’ll say yes. If you ask if they’re paid, they’ll say no. If you ask if they can leave, they’ll say no. There isn’t any question that these are slaves. If you think there’s no slavery left in the world, think again.

I think as a foreigner, I gained status as an honorary man. I was with all men. In my last post, that’s my driver Oumar on the far left, my host Aboubacrine next to him and in the picture with the girl, and my translator Mohamed with the flashlight.

And the goat...I’d gladly give the leftovers to you, Jen! A lot of the reason eating goat (which I can’t really tell you how it smelled or it tasted, since I blocked it out) is nearly impossible because I eat vegetarian mostly. But I have such a strong sense of cultural acceptance and correctness that I try to eat whatever is put in front of me, knowing that whomever is serving it has probably made a real financial sacrifice to do so. People (except in India) do not understand not eating meat. It causes a lot of confusion. Tuareg food is cooked with some wonderful spices, crushed right before using. They’re the same as those used in Middle Eastern food. The bread is called roti, the same name as Indian bread, but it’s different.

All of you reading this are really extraordinary. Often when I’m writing, I wonder why people read this. I think no one is going to relate to or be interested in this odd life I have on the road. I started blogging between a trip to Madagascar and this trip to Africa, so the travel stories started after I was already writing. I don’t have a desire to go back and talk about dozens of trips before (although something may pop out now and again), but I am motivated to come back and tell stories about trips I’m taking now.

8 Comments:

Blogger meno said...

An honorary man? Hmmmm.

And i love these stories.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Citymouse said...

Please allow me to thank you! I think you being here to write this is a testament to what the internet is really about. I find very few like minded people in my community. Most do not care about anything more than what their yard looks like to the neighbors. Your posts have helped me to feel less isolated. They have served as a reminder that there are real people in the world, working for real change. I believe a revolution is possible. It starts with those who care enough to do what is right.

9:44 AM  
Blogger KC said...

Your posts are sumptuous partly because they bring exoticism to my very small world. And partly because of the insight, thoughtfulness, and cultural sensitivity that you approach yours.

It's a vicarious thrill.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Susan as herself said...

I have always loved learning about how other people live. The details in your stories are what makes them so fascinating.

And although goat doesn't sound too appetizing, I would be willing to try it. At least it's not bugs or worms that you see people eating (often still moving) on the travel channel. I'll take cooked meat any day over stuff like that!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gahhhh, slavery etc. Some places are just not very nice.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Lucia thank you for answering my question. I see how much I did not understand without a full picture. I am astonished and yet not astonished that slavery still exists. It seems so barbaric and yet sadly not surprising. Does this mean then that the women's main role in society is to oversee the slaves and bear children?
This is the best world education a person can get! Keep telling us more more more...

12:20 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you probably already know, I find your posts fascinating! In fact, you should compile it and one day turn it into a book. Have you ever read "Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark"? I recommend it. I can easily see you writing a similar book.


Peace,

Thailand Gal
~*~*~

1:33 PM  

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