The Tuareg people live under the tyranny of the Sahara; its wind, sun, sand, and severely limited water resources dictating their dress, nomadic movement patterns, ability to grow food, and more. Even so, these women gathered together at the end of a long day find empowerment. They have voice.
Regardless of exterior views I or any person with a Western gaze might have of women covered in their form of dress, had you been there with me, you would have heard what I heard. The women were shrilling and dancing on the dunes. They sang tinde nomnas, songs of exorcism, and ezele, dance songs. They played the tinde and water drums as their high pitched lyrics stretched across the expanse of sand and dune. Their declarations of “I am” were carried by the wind into the universe.
Must we place judgements on other people whose traditions are different than our own? What if we saw them in the light of truth? What would happen if we shed our lofty opinions and misguided conclusions? What might we discover?
I believe we would find harmony, beauty, connection, respect. In this image we would see the essential strength of female empowerment. We would experience the voice of I am and find courage to sing into the wind: I am, I am, we are.