Black Man's Burden
The two-vehicle caravan emerged from the sandy wastes of the erg and approached the small encampment of Taitoq Tuareg which consisted of seven goat leather tents. They were not unanticipated, the camp's scouts had noted the strange pillars of high-flung dust which were set up by the air rotors an hour earlier and for the past fifteen minutes they had been visible to all.
The turmoil in Africa is only beginning—and it must grow worse before it's better. Not until the people of Africa know they are Africans—not warring tribesmen—will there be peace....
Moussa-ag-Amastan, headman of the clan, awaited the newcomers at first with a certain trepidation in spite of his warrior blood. Although he hadn't expressed himself thus to his followers, his first opinion had been that the unprecedented pillars were djinn come out of the erg for no good purpose. It wasn't until they were quite close that it could be seen the vehicles bore resemblance to those of the Rouma which were of recent years spreading endlessly through the lands of the Ahaggar Tuareg and beggaring those who formerly had conducted the commerce of the Sahara.
But the vehicles traveling through the sand dunes! That had been the last advantage of the camel. No wheeled vehicle could cross the vast stretches of the ergs, they must stick to the hard ground, to the tire-destroying gravel.
They came to a halt and Moussa-ag-Amastan drew up his teguelmoust turban-veil even closer about his eyes. He had no desire to let the newcomers witness his shocked surprise at the fact that the desert lorries had no wheels, floated instead without support, and now that they were at a standstill settled gently to earth.
There was further surprise when the five who issued forth from the two seemingly clumsy vehicles failed to be Rouma. They looked more like the Teda to the south, and the Targui's eyes thinned beneath his teguelmoust. Since the French had pulled out their once dreaded Camel Corps there had been somewhat of a renaissance of violence between traditional foes.
However, the newcomers, though dark as Negro Bela slaves, wore Tuareg dress, loose baggy trousers of dark indigo-blue cotton cloth, a loose, nightgownlike white cotton shirt, and over this a gandoura outer garment. Above all, they wore the teguelmoust though they were shockingly lax in keeping it properly up about the mouth.
Moussa-ag-Amastan knew that he was backed by ten or more of his clansmen, half of whom bore rifles, the rest Tuareg broadswords, Crusader-like with their two edges, round points and flat rectangular cross-members. Only two of the strangers seemed armed and they negligently bore their smallish guns in the crooks of their arms. The clan leader spoke at strength, then, but he said the traditional "La bas."
"There is no evil," repeated the foremost of the newcomers. His Tamabeq, the Berber language of the Tuareg confederations, seemed perfect.
Moussa-ag-Amastan said, "What do you do in the lands of the Taitoq Tuareg?"
The stranger, a tall, handsome man with a dominating though pleasant personality, indicated the vehicles with a sweep of his hand. "We are Enaden, itinerant smiths. As has ever been our wont, we travel from encampment to encampment to sell our products and to make repair upon your metal possessions."
Enaden! The traveling smiths of the Ahaggar, and indeed of the whole Sahara, were a despised and ragged lot at best....