Africa

Published 5:16 AM ET, Wed September 14, 2016
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Author Nicholas Jubber experienced the precarious life faced by the Sahara's nomadic peoples, recording them in new book "The Timbuktu School for Nomads: Across the Sahara in the Shadow of Jihad." Pictured, a Tuareg poet in a blue robe in southern Algeria, 2016. FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Traveling among tribes including Fulani herdsmen and Berabish nomads, Jubber made his way from Fez in Morocco to Timbuktu in Mali, a journey not without its perils. TAHA JAWASHI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Political instability in Libya spread south in 2012, with Islamic militants waging war on parts of Mali, claiming Timbuktu in and derailing Jubber's journey. Pictured, a Tuareg tribesman looks on in the Meggedat valley, Libya. TAHA JAWASHI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The author and traveler was determined, however. "When you're in the middle of a journey you can become quite numb to the danger," he told CNN. "[You] just want to keep going to reach your goal or your destination, and you forget that there really are slightly frightening things going on around you." FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Jubber worked in the tanneries of Fez at the start of his adventure. "As organically decrepit as Heironymous Bosch's hell, the Ain Azeltoun tannery may well be the stinkiest place in the whole of Fez," he said when recording the experience. AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Sharia law was imposed on Timbuktu in 2012 by Islamist militants including members of the group Ansar Dine. Music and cigarettes were banned, and the occupying force introduced public floggings, tales of which Jubber unwaveringly records from conversations with citizens post-liberation. SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
French-led forces liberated Timbuktu in January 2013, but citizens inherited a collection of vandalized monuments at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO helped restore the city's historic mausoleums and other monuments deemed idolatrous during the militant occupation. ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A traditional ceremony in a village near Abalak, Niger, shows veiled Tuareg women wrapped in rugs to hide their bodies from visitors' looks, according to local custom. Jubber says the Sahel region -- the semiarid belt of land south of the Sahara, to which Abalak belongs -- is the site of what he calls "the first climate change war," where disputes over resources and land rights have made life difficult for nomadic herdsmen. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Tuaregs sitting on camels in Timbuktu, 1977. Timbuktu, situated between the desert and the Niger River, was once a city of great prosperity, with some of its greatest buildings commissioned by Mansa Musa I. Musa, leader of the West African Mali Empire in the early 14th century, is thought by historians to be the richest man to ever walk the Earth, with an inflation-adjusted wealth of $400 billion. PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A man prays inside the Sankore mosque in Timbuktu. Part of the madrasah was commissioned by Mansa Musa I. Getty Images
Tuareg Khoulene Alamine (center), an imzad teacher sits with a poet on the sand of the Tagmart plateau. The imzad, a single-stringed violin played only by Tuareg women, is making a comeback in Algeria. Jubber experienced a wealth of cultures that rubbed off on each other across the Sahara. "I love not only the richness of the individual cultures," he said, "but the way they intersect with each other in a matrix of interrelatedness." FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A Bedouin takes water from a well near Nema, southeastern Mauritania, 2012. The West African nation has retained one cultural trait that was dominant during the time of Mansa Musa I: slavery (which is illegal, but widespread). Jubber writes of his hopes that "the future will be very different," and the region will regain its great wealth from sources such as solar energy instead. ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images