Illizi Festival, 2000

 

 

 

Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

 

Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

—by Fergie Norris

There I was, pinching myself, the sky was clear blue, it was a sparkling November morning. All around me was a cacophony of sound: hypnotic drum beats, women and children singing, dancers a whirl of colour right in front of my eyes. I was sitting in an armchair—yet this was not television—it was real!
I and some of my colleagues from BP, were special guests of Mr Mohamed Oubah—[the Wali (Governor) of Illizi province, one of the largest provincial areas in southern Algeria] and we were celebrating, along with the town, the forty-sixth anniversary of the 1st of November, Algerian Revolution. Here we were, the guests, sitting on a specially constructed palm-fringed dais, watching a most amazing Saharan spectacle as it wound slowly down the main street of Illizi. This was a grand parade of Touaregs in all their finery. There were literally hundreds of these people, many had travelled vast distances from neighbouring countries to celebrate.

There were the women drummers, clad head-to-toe in shocking pink, scarlet or fuchsia, set off by swathes of dark, shimmering, indigo cloth. Hennaed hands, red fingernails and copious silver rings, bangles and necklaces completed their costumes. They carried small tambourine-shaped drums and they tapped out the pulsating beats with thin, curving canes. Those not drumming, clapped their hands and sang hypnotic chanting verses punctuated now and then by ululations and cheers from the crowd.
Between them and me, the men danced —whirling backwards and forwards in a graceful ballet. They wore long white robes over which they sported a black tabard—all held together by a criss-cross of red, white and gold from shoulders to waist. Their faces were totally covered by a black veil set off by a scarlet fez, bedecked with silver jewellery and turquoise tassels. They carried swords in one hand and their loved one’s scarf in the other. Others carried long, green camel whips adorned with red, orange and gold tassels. Yet another group chose beautifully decorated shields in red or ochre, depicting warriors from pre-historic times. They all danced in front of us—we could almost reach out and touch them – mesmerising us with the colour and the music—before they vanished back into the parade.
A roar rose from the crowd and there was Miss Illizi—proudly displaying her winner’s sash and glittering tiara. Only the night before we had witnessed her coronation—the highlight after selecting the winners from among seventy finalists from all over the province. Many girls came from Djanet—over 21 days camel ride away, wearing, like the eventual winner, their traditional purple and indigo robes. Others came from Deb Deb with their red and white chiffon dresses topped with white lace veils.
The girls had shyly ventured down a catwalk, parading a staggering array of silver jewellery appearing to adorn every square inch of their costumes. As much as 10 kilograms of silver weighed down each contestant! Tiers of silver baubles hung from head to waist. Breastplates of silver and solid silver bars hung round the neck and long hoops of silver jewellery garlanded the waist, sometimes reaching almost to the knees. Contestants wore bracelets of solid silver—as many as eight on each arm and every available finger displayed an intricately engraved silver ring.
A few contestants chose turquoise dresses with loops of semi-precious stones and beads. Some displayed shells set on ebony, fastened to strings of black pearls. Tiny coronets of silver, hundreds of years old, were worn around the head. Other girls wore robes of white with sequinned beading, and still others beautiful mint green robes with intricate embroidery. Hair was greased with oil and mixed with sand before being tightly secured in satin sheaths to hang down alongside the silver necklaces. All the girls wore natural makeup—kohl around the eyes, indigo for lipstick and beauty marks. The combined effect of the elegance of the young women, their dazzling jewellery and stunning costumes was breathtaking. As each contestant made her way down the catwalk, there was cheer of appreciation from the townsfolk, who had crammed into the town hall for a glimpse of the contestants. This year was the first time that men were allowed to view the Miss Illizi event.

The festival was a resounding success—thanks to the vision of the Wali to develop the forty-sixth anniversary celebrations into a three-day showcase for Illizi—and to companies like BP, who had sponsored events for the enjoyment of all. I sincerely hope that this festival will become a regular event, reminding all visitors privileged to witness it of the unique and vibrant traditions of the Sahara.

Rock Art Chariot