Since travelling into the Sahel region of Northern Western Africa (Mali, Niger, Libya, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania) in 1999, French photographer Arnaud Contreras has been documenting the intersection of music and youth culture in these areas, as well as the juxtaposition of where Western influences meet local cultures and traditions, something seen in the music of bands like Tinariwen that combine sounds of the electric guitar with their own Malian musical heritage.
All this happening against the background of areas that have become highly susceptible to threats of terrorism, human trafficking, migration of undocumented persons, and the pressures on cultural and natural heritages from tourism, governmental authorities and other infringing groups.
A woman with four-lobed gold earrings known as “kwottenai” in Mopti, Mali. 1970.
Among the finest gold ornaments of the Sahel are the Peul (Fulani, Fulbe) earrings worn in the Mopti, Jenne and Macina regions of Mali. Twisted gold earrings are hammered into a four-lobed shape, often embellished with engraved designs.
The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD; French: Communauté des Etats Sahélo-Sahariens; Arabic: تجمع دول الساحل والصحراء) aims to create a free trade area within Africa. There are questions with regard to whether its level of economic integration qualifies it under the Enabling clause.
CEN-SAD was established in February 1998 by six countries, but since then its membership has grown to 28. One of its main goals is to achieve economic unity through the implementation of the free movement of people and goods in order to make the area occupied by member states a free trade area.
At the international level, CEN-SAD gained observer status at the UN General Assembly in 2001 and concluded association and cooperation accords with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and with UN specialized agencies and institutions such as UNDP, WHO, UNESCO, FAO, and the Permanent Interstate Committee for drought control in the Sahel.
All CEN-SAD member countries are also participating in other African economic unions, that have the aim to create a common African Economic Community. The envisioned Free Trade Area of CEN-SAD would be hard to practically implement, because it is overlapping with the envisioned customs unions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ECCAS and COMESA and other trade blocs more advanced in their integration.
Inspired by the aesthetic of the intrepid recordists at film and record label Sublime Frequencies, this series explores the sounds of North Africa as captured by two of the label’s key directors Hisham Mayet and Olivia Wyatt and their influences.
Presented in conjunction with Mic Check on BAM’s mainstage.
Infestations of locusts could destroy farmers’ efforts to replenish food stocks in the Sahel, an area suffering drought and hunger.
Northern Niger and Mali – areas already hit by a devastating food crisis and civil conflict – are facing a new threat in the form of locusts.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning that swarms of locusts are moving south from Libya and Algeria, and that early rains across the Sahel have led to the sprouting of vegetation that the insectscan feed on.
The warning comes as farmers across the Sahel prepare to start their annual crop planting season in the hope that a good harvest could replenish food stocks.
Memories of the Sahel is part of a new initiative by UNICEF called #SahelNOW that seeks to raise awareness about the looming food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa.
Going against the grain of traditional ‘poverty porn’-centered awareness campaigns, in this segment, UNICEF interviews Africans living in the diaspora (the US specifically) who give firsthand accounts of what life was like growing up in the Sahel as well as their concerns for future generations of Sahelians.