March 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Writing - Morocco: Seattle Times: Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's "Angry Wind": Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Special Report: Morocco RPCV and Author Jeffrey Tayler: March 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Writing - Morocco: Oregon Live: Review of Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's "Angry Wind" : March 27, 2005: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Writing - Morocco: Seattle Times: Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's "Angry Wind": Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, April 02, 2005 - 10:14 pm: Edit Post

Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's "Angry Wind": Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's Angry Wind: Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

Morocco RPCV Jeffrey Tayler's "Angry Wind": Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

"Angry Wind": Misery and mystery in unforgiving place

By David Takami

Special to The Seattle Times

"Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel"
by Jeffrey Tayler
Houghton Mifflin, 252 pp., $25

Just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, Jeffrey Tayler spent several months traveling through some of the most remote and forbidding territory on Earth, from Chad west through Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Senegal.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had intensified the author's already strong desire to explore this swath of Muslim black Africa, where he briefly visited in 1997. Osama bin Laden had encamped just east of Chad, in Sudan, for several years in the 1990s.

Tayler's 4,000-mile journey took him along a band of semi-desert land south of the Sahara called the Sahel. A broad diversity of people share this barren landscape and the dry easterly windstorms called the harmattan, which can blow for days over Central and West Africa.

For Tayler, the harmattan is like a dusty lens, revealing the severe natural conditions of the terrain and, more metaphorically, the human misery he encounters. Fluency in Arabic and French gives him unique access for a white foreigner. He has also read the Koran, giving him further insight into the cultures and politics of the region. The Muslim influence in West Africa dates back 1,200 years.

The people of the Sahel feel a sense of belonging to their tribes the Tuareg, Hausa, Zarma and Songhai and not to the nation-states created by 20th-century colonial powers. Historic ethnic tensions and subregional conflicts simmer constantly.

Tayler himself openly questions Bush administration policies and war plans, but most of the criticism of the U.S. he hears is unsolicited. Although he faces skepticism and hostility as an American, many of the people he interviews treat him with respect and decency, reserving their outrage for President Bush. As one of Tayler's Nigerian guides puts it: "We separate Bush from the American people. Evil comes from Bush, not from the American people, who are honest." Anti-Americanism is not new to this region, but "Bush (and Blair) angered Muslims in a newly and uniquely personal way," Tayler writes, "and evoked a disgust whose likes I had never before seen in twenty-one years of overseas travel."

However, "Angry Wind" is far from a political diatribe. Lush accounts of traveling to storied destinations are at the heart of the narrative. He describes Faya Largeau, in northern Chad, as the "largest oasis town on earth." Tayler rides by camel to witness exultant dance rituals by Tuareg nomads in the sands of the Sahara. He takes an eventful boat trip down the Niger River to Timbuktu.

Hardship is the norm in much of the Sahel. The villages he visits in Niger seem the most distant from modernity. Slavery still exists in remote areas of the country. He visits a town where men take their fill of the limited food supply while women and children go hungry. So foreign and reviled is the concept of state or national government that taxes are collected in raids.

Tayler the writer sometimes overreaches with his diction, waxing rhapsodic about the "crepuscular luminosity" of a Malian village and the "voluptuous mounds" of desert sands, but he rises to the occasion in the urban scenes. Of Bamako, Mali, he writes, "The chants of the mendicants, the hyena-honks of taxis, the grunts of the women, and the oaths shouted by angry drivers all compose a cacophony of urban distress as grievous as it is vain. Vain because beyond the Sahel the voices of these people cannot be heard, their stories will never be told. They are born to live poor and die hard, leaving nothing behind; their misery, once the subject of ideologies of liberation and revolt, inspires no one."

Tayler's grim conclusion about Bamako and the region that conditions will worsen and animosities increase illustrates his larger point that in a time of global destabilization and the rise of fanatic fundamentalist religion, we ignore the fate of these people at our own peril.

David Takami is the author of "Divided Destiny: A History of Japanese Americans in Seattle."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand Date: March 20 2005 No: 530 Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand
After the Tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, Peace Corps issued an appeal for Crisis Corps Volunteers and over 200 RPCVs responded. The first team of 8 Crisis Corps volunteers departed for Thailand on March 18 to join RPCVs who are already supporting relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India with other agencies and NGO's.

This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL Date: March 27 2005 No: 537 This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL
Dream Come True - Revisiting India after 34 years
The Coyne Column: Read Winning Vanity Fair PCV Essay
Tomas Belsky's paintings inspired by service in Brazil
RPCV reunites with friend after 40 years
RPCV reviews "Los Heraldos Negros" by Cesar Vallejo
Photo Essay: Taking it to the Streets

March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: March 26 2005 No: 532 March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
PCVs in Kyrgyz Republic Are Safe 25 Mar
The Coyne Column: A Good Friday Message 25 Mar
Frederic Zenhausern developing "biometric bodysuits" 24 Mar
Robert Blackwill calls for US co-operation with India 23 Mar
Margaret Krome promotes alternate crops 23 Mar
Al Kamen says allies disappointed in World Bank 23 Mar
Ambassador Randall L. Tobias speaks at PC 22 Mar
Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast 22 Mar
Fred Poses meets with Vice-Premier in China 22 Mar
John Hoff unionizes substitute teachers in Hawaii 21 Mar
Bill Moyers takes time to "sit and vegetate" 21 Mar
Tony Hall says Ethiopia may need more food aid 21 Mar
Taylor Hackford's 'Ray' wins four NAACP Image Awards 21 Mar
PCV seeks tap shoes for students in Moldova 20 Mar
Adam Donaldson learns to believe in Baltimore 20 Mar
Allen Andersson builds libraries in Central America 19 Mar
Senator Sarbanes' quiet leadership will be missed 15 Mar

March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News Date: March 26 2005 No: 534 March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News
Houston RPCVs sponsor "Around the World in a Day"on April 6 25 Mar
Minnesota RPCVs need Photos for Exhibition 24 Mar
Vasquez to visit DePaul University on April 6 22 Mar
New Jersey RPCVs host exhibit in Maplewood on April 2 20 Mar
Maryland RPCVs eat crab cakes in Annapolis 17 Mar
Connecticut RPCVs held fundraiser on March 5 3 Mar
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC Date: March 5 2005 No: 482 RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC
RPCVs Sam Farr, Chris Shays, Thomas Petri, James Walsh, and Mike Honda have asked their colleagues in Congress to add their names to a letter they have written to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asking for full funding of $345 M for the Peace Corps in 2006. As a follow-on to Peace Corps week, please read the letter and call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to add their name to the letter.

Add your info now to the RPCV Directory Date: March 13 2005 No: 489 Add your info now to the RPCV Directory
Call Harris Publishing at 800-414-4608 right away to add your name or make changes to your listing in the newest edition of the NPCA's Directory of Peace Corps Volunteers and Former Staff. Then read our story on how you can get access to the book after it is published. The deadline for inclusion is May 16 so call now.

March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.
Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Seattle Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Writing - Morocco



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.