be on thee, O Sidi. I know what you came here for, so you
may listen what I have to tell you O Sidi. In the caravansaries
across Fachi the Tibbu people susurrate of a place, none
of the unbelievers has ever got to see. It’s the Mesa
of the Thunderstones. Inschallah you may have heard of it.
Many have tried to get there but Al Dschumdschab, the glooming
breath of the Erg has devoured them all. Death hath come
upon them; and Allah is the terminator of delights and the
separator of companions and the devastator of flourishing
dwelling; so He hath transported them from the comfort of
their homes to the dust of the graves. Their bones parch
in the valleys of the great Sand Sea while far away in their
countries their mansions are void of their presence. As
Dschinns they stray through the desert and shall find no
rest. But you are young and strong O Sidi, together with
me you can dare the challenge. Inschallah my people will
recall your name still in a hundred years and those who
went with you will know you as “Abu Teckak,The Father
of Thunderstones.” We will cross the desert and climb
the mesa of thunderstones, and your rejoicing will be great
when you load your camels with the black thunderstones—
Allah to whom be ascribed might and glory be my witness.”
petroglyphs and engravings tell about more humid periods
in which most parts of the Sahara were populated. Three
major phases can be described, two can bee seen in the
pictures. The oldest (top, elephant hunting scene) is
dated until 12.000 B.C. which is equivalent to the end
of the last ice age. Apart from naturalistic animal
and hunting illustration the "Round Head Phase"
from 7,000 to 5,000 B.C. shows a broad variety of stylized
figures that refer to the mythological imagery of the
early hunter clans (bottom).
meteorite at Timmersoi)
oldest matter found on earth originates from outer space.
This debris from far away worlds falls from the icy depths
of space onto the ever-changing surface of our planet. Those
fragments tell us about the emergence of the elements and
the birth and death of celestial bodies. Today in almost
every country there are scientists who work on decoding
their messages. Few have investigated in those rare areas
in the vast deserts of North Africa, in which meteorites
are found in dense concentrations. The study of these meteorite
fields was the mission of the team
from Meteroite Recon. In early 2002 a group of German researchers
launched the first scientific expedition into the eastern
part of the Central Sahara. The goal of this mission into
one of the most extreme regions of our earth was the search
for undiscovered strewfields and, if possible, the salvage
of cosmic debris from the dust of the Tenere desert. More
recently, an expedition in the summer of 2004 led the team
into the Red Hammada and some 1,5000 miles in the trackless
expanse of the Libyan Sahara doing fieldwork in their challenging
search for black “thunderstones”.
with meteor showers you will see bolides, particularly bright
meteors which have a long trail and end in an explosion.
Bolide is a Greek word meaning "thrown spear."
Mediterranean cultures and the Chinese thought they were
dragons, or messengers sent from the heavens. In Siberian
legends, the sky was a dome of sewn hides through which
the gods would occasionally peer, exposing a flash of the
radiance beyond. Several Native American tribes thought
meteors were fragments of lunar material and called them
"children of the moon."
cultures saw meteors as something either very good, or something
very bad. For centuries, in the UK it was customary to say
that a child had been born each time a meteor appeared,
perhaps with the story of the Star of Bethlehem in mind.
But in other parts of the UK, it was believed that the sight
of a meteor meant that someone had died. As the RMS Titanic
was sinking in the frigid Atlantic water, the survivors
mentioned seeing an abnormal amount of meteors and some
believed it to be their beloved husbands (left aboard the
sinking ship,) souls passing to heaven. It happened that
just as Titanic was sinking, the Lyriad meteor shower was
Imân" - "Water means life",
the most common saying among the Tuareg. This natural
freshwater reservoir in the Air collects the rainwater
and keeps it fresh over the dry periods over several
years. The location served some 300 combatants as a
hideout for one year during the rebellion.
Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa,
bordering Nigeria and Benin south, Burkina Faso and Mali
west, Algeria and Libya north and Chad east.
A vast, arid state on the edge of the Sahara
desert, Niger endured austere military rule for much of
its post-independence history, and is rated by the UN as
one of the world’s least-developed nations. Niger
is one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal
government services and insufficient funds to develop its
resource base. The largely agrarian and subsistence-based
economy is frequently disrupted by extended droughts common
to the Sahel region of Africa.
Niger became independent from France in
1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until
1991, when Gen. Ali SAIBOU was forced by public pressure
to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic
government in 1993. Political infighting brought the government
to a standstill and in 1996 led to a coup by Col. Ibrahim
BARE. In 1999 BARE was killed in a coup by military officers
who promptly restored democratic rule and held elections
that brought Mamadou TANDJA to power in December of that
year. TANDJA was reelected in 2004.
* * *
The nations of Niger and Nigeria are named after the Niger
River, a relatively ‘clear’ river, carrying
only a tenth as much sediment as the Nile. Both rivers flood
yearly, beginning in September, peaking in November and
finishing by May. The Niger Inland Delta forms where its
gradient suddenly decreases. The result is a region of braided
streams, marshes and lakes the size of Belgium. The seasonal
floods make the Delta extremely productive for both fishing
Niger takes one of the most unusual routes of any major
river, a boomerang shape that baffled European geographers
for two millennia. It source is just 150 miles inland from
the Atlantic Ocean, but the river runs away from the sea
into the Sahara Desert, then takes a sharp right turn and
heads southeast to the Gulf of Guinea. Westerners only established
the true course in the 19th century; apparently come about
because the Niger river is two ancient rivers joined together.
The upper Niger, from the source past the fabled trading
city of Timbuktu to the bend in the current river, once
emptied into a now-gone lake, while the lower Niger started
in hills near that lake and flowed south into the Gulf of
Guinea. As the Sahara dried up in 4000-1000 BC, the two
rivers altered their courses and hooked up.
Location: “On the Tillabery Road, halfway between
Niamey and Tillabery. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger
in ’88-90 and fell in love with the country, the land,
the people, the smells, the culture. I’ve visited
once, in 1995, and again last weekend. Sorry I’m not
collecting the sample with a Nigerian, but since I no longer
live there, I didn’t feel comfortable getting help
from someone I don’t know …” So writes
Ruth Estabrook, the soil collector for both Niger and Burkina
Faso. We await her photos of the collection in Niger.
is a land of ancient art, history, river currents, shooting
stars and thunderbolts; bolides and warfare. It is a land
where life expectancy at birth is 43.8 years. Human beings
begin as the spark in their fathers’ eyes, shooting
into life perhaps unprepared for the land of their emergence.
They live on the platform of soil that Common Ground 191
treasures. They end their numbered days under that same
soil, beneath the earth. Meteorites are miraculous messages
of mankind’s connection with the stars, touching the
earth with mystery and magic. We do not know what the results
of the 2002 Meteorite Recon were. The first words of this
journal entry were, “Peace be on thee, O Sidi”
and it is our heartfelt wish for peace, prosperity and long
life to the land of Niger.
light, star bright, first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight:
you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you.
If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.
Fate is kind. She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.
word for peace in Niger is “Lumana”…