Between dunes and oasis

Dec 01, 2019    Anibal Bueno

This country in Central Africa is home to more than two hundred different ethnic groups spread irregularly throughout the twenty-two regions that make up this republic. In the south of this territory, sedentary communities such as the Sara, the majority town, are located. In the north there are nomadic peoples - such as the tubúes - and in the Sahel area, sedentary families live with nomadic groups, almost all of them Arabs.

Just over 100 kilometers from the capital, N’Djamena, we can find the Wodaabe, a subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group, also known as mbororo. They are a nomadic community that expands along the Sahel (southern Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic) and acquires a greater prominence for the famous festival held every year in September: the Gerewol . In it, whole families gather to celebrate this beauty competition in which young men make up and dress consciously to dance in a row - while grimacing with their faces - trying to get the attention of women from other families. In this case, it is they who choose men for their beauty and, as a result of this attraction, true love, a marriage of convenience or a night of isolated passion can arise.

In addition to this cultural wealth, Chad, at its northern end next to the Libyan border, houses the Ennedi Desert where spectacular rock formations declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016 are located. This area, called the Ennedi Plateau, It has impressive sandstone figures sculpted capriciously by the wind over the centuries. A remote place full of stone pillars and arches of different shapes and heights where you can walk under the Aloba Arch, one of the largest in the world with one hundred twenty meters high and seventy seven meters wide or see the Elephant Arch, so named because its shape resembles that of this animal. You can observe many other formations along this area of ​​land and be complicit in the vastness and beauty of the area.

The Chadian landscape is home to one of the Sahara's most famous natural water basins: the Guelta d'Archei. A unique space where nomads and their animals make a stop to drink water and rest. Access is complicated, but once there, you can enjoy this wonderful landscape and the sound of hundreds of camels moving in and out of the water in the middle of the silence of the desert.

The Unianga Lakes form a small oasis in the middle of the desert, a body of water full of color and life from where you can enjoy a sunrise or sunset in this small lung delimited by large palm trees.

After hours of driving through the Chadian desert, the landscape may always look the same, but all that visual monotony is broken when you see what another universe looks like: water wells. The encounter between different nomadic communities around these forms a unique atmosphere. Hundreds of animals: camels, donkeys, goats, etc. drinking the water that children take from wells with buckets made with tires and ropes. The echo of the animals' braids and brays mixed with that of the greetings and conversations of the nomads is magical and enveloping. Peace is breathed in the middle of this desert. Seeing the infinite ocher of that place adorned with the red, green, black, yellow or pure white of their clothes makes these social gatherings unforgettable.

This country maintains almost a large part of its territory, entering it and witnessing its beauty is almost mandatory.