The Great Nations: a Tuareg Poem

By Souéloum Diagho, a Tuareg poet from Tessalit in the North of Mali. His father is Tamashek, his mother Fula. He writes in the tradition of the controversial eighth century Arabic poet Ghaylan ibn ‘Uqbah. His poetry gives us a view of the Tamashek as they see themselves: a more useful thing than another reduction of recent events.
Souéloum Diagho writes and publishes in French. This poem was translated by Blaisep

Tuareg Tent

There are the Great, America and Russia,
And the small, never spelled out.

Fishing Grounds

There are nations where water flows,
And others dreaming of their own share of the world,
There are the talkers, pushing their agendas
And those seeking to escape.

Sahara Sands

There are Indian and the Tuareg,
The Pygmies and the children with cholera.

Tuareg with cattle

There is peace and rage, constantly boiling
In a pot, a stew of misery,
In it are the guts of the discontent,
The people abandoned by those who call themselves Great.

Timbuktu, among the houses
Timbuktu, marketplace
Timbuktu, the restored library

There is this little country surrounded by a desert landscape,
All it shows for itself is oil flowing from a rock
A spring of living water to quench the thirst
Lasting for many moons,
it does not compete with the Great Nations
And their satanic pride.

The oasis

The Great grow Greater
The small again become even smaller,
We need a third way, the chance to reconsider the status quo,
Such as the UN, but with more freedom,
And greater justice in the Hague that considers
The statements of those oppressed in their thousands.

Mangroves at the Niger delta

We write poems in the sand
then they can be carried with the wind
or they remain a secret
that is so
what I write in the sand
will be carried with the wind

(Unknown Tuareg poet)

Now, if you want to visit Timbuktu, the “lost place” in the desert, type the region’s name (Timuktu) into your map and then – be sure to visit the grand library where you can find some detailed information about the the history of the city.

Tosha Tyran
(Laying in the warm warm desert sand)

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