Tuareg, Tamasheq, Mali, proverbs, musicality, decolonization

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In 2013, Tuareg and Malian writer, Zakiyatou oualett Halatine, was forced to flee a conflict that rages on in Mali to this day, and her creative work, Passions du désert, along with a collection of proverbs and a book-length essay, became a means of reconstructing memory and identity of a people ultimately blamed for Mali’s divisions. Zakiyatou’s texts provide us with a rare look at the desert region of Northern Mali from a woman’s perspective. Zakiyatou’s writings are unique in a corpus of Malian literature mostly generated by Southern Malian authors. In many ways, she is the lone literary voice of Northern Mali. She is known for her original style, which infuses untranslatable Tamasheq words and phrases into her text written in French. Her stories are a fusion of contemporary creative writing, musical traditions, and a retelling of Tuareg's oral legends that define her desert people. This article analyzes Zakiyatou’s texts that decolonize and rewrite Tuareg's history from a woman’s perspective. This is especially important since women’s voices, although prominent in Tuareg and the larger Amazigh society, tend to be ignored outside, including within Mali.

Keywords: Tuareg, Tamasheq, Mali, proverbs, musicality, decolonization How