Read at: Google Alert – desertification
Oral Histories from the Sahel
The stories of the Sahel, told by those who have long lived in the region, and who relate a lifetime of changes. These oral accounts, used with permission, are from “At the Desert’s Edge: Oral Histories from the Sahel” published by SOS Sahel and the Panos Institute.
The Sahel Oral History Project, conducted in 1989 and 1990 by the UK-based voluntary organisation SOS Sahel, involved interviews with approximately 650 men and women from 8 Sahelian countries. The book which resulted – At the Desert’s Edge – was produced in partnership with the Panos Institute. By talking with farmers, pastoralists, refugees, and others, researchers hoped to gain a better understanding of traditional land-use practice, land tenure, farming and pastoral systems, the causes of desertification, and many other aspects of Sahelian life.
Featuring a selected number of oral histories, the book explores the culture, history, and environment of the Sahel through the memories and recollections of its people. The interviews – most of whom feature rural, elderly, illiterate Sahelians – cast light on questions like: What was the way of life in the past? How and why has the land come to its present, desertified state? How and why do Sahelian farmers and nomads keep going in the face of such odds? What specific kinds of indigenous knowledge have been developed to improve life? The stories are identified by the person’s name and age and divided by country: Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The collection, which might be a source of reference for development workers, teachers, and journalists, highlights the changing ecological conditions, conservation practices, traditional medicines, and agricultural practices of this part of Africa.
I am going to post selected quotations from the story tellers. Contributions, comments and discussions are welcome. I hope we can all learn from these experiences.
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