Tamasheq Tuareg in Mauritania

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Tahoua Tuareg of Mali belong to a larger group of Berber-speaking Tuareg who live in an area that stretches from the western Sahara to western Sudan. The Tuareg are divided into several main political groups or tribal units. Their distinguishing characteristics include the unity of their language, their alphabet which uses "tifinagh" characters, and their complex social organization.

Although little is known about the Tahoua, it is thought that they are part of a Tuareg tribe that once lived in the town of Tahoua, southern Niger. Today, the Tamasheq-speaking Tahoua live in Niger, while the Tamajeq-speaking Tahoua live in Mali.

Although the origin and early history of the Tuareg are obscure, these tribal nomads appear to have traveled down from North Africa in a series of migrations as early as the seventh century. By the end of the 1300s, Tuareg tribes had established themselves as far south as the Nigerian border.

What Are Their Lives Like?

At the beginning of the 1300s, salt, gold, ivory, and slave markets sprang up across Tuareg territory which stretched across North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. During that time, the Tuareg became well known as livestock producers and merchants in the Saharan and Sahelian regions.

In the Southern Sahara, many Tuareg, particularly those from the Negro classes, are now settled farmers living in villages surrounded by grain fields. Since farming is seasonal work, many of the young men also take jobs as blue-collar workers in Nigeria, Ghana, or Ivory Coast for part of the year.

In 1972, the worst drought in 50 years struck the Sahara, bringing disaster and severe stress to the Tuareg. The nomads were forced to travel southward with their families in search of pastures for their herds. This massive migration intensified as water supplies began to fail. Conflicts over rights and obligations among the people and governments of the regions were also generated. Many animals died of thirst, hunger, or fatigue during the long journey. Thousands of Tuareg drifted to the cities where they set up cowhide shelters and lean-to shanties on the fringes of town.

Although the rains in 1974 were good, they did not wash away the serious economic and social effects of the drought, and life for the Tuareg was never to be the same. Many Tuareg, tempted by the less rigorous urban lifestyle, never returned to their original homeland.

Even today, the Tuareg depend on their animals for survival; however, meat and milk are not enough, especially during the dry years. The basic elements of the Tuareg diet are milk, grains, and dates. Fresh vegetables are rarely eaten. Millet is raised both in the Saharan oases and in Sudan. Though meat is highly preferred, it is not eaten on a regular basis. Goat is the most commonly eaten meat; camel is rarely eaten.

The Tuareg nomads live in small, lightweight, leather tents or grass huts. A tent is usually about 10 feet long and 10 to 15 feet wide. A household can pack its goods on the backs of two camels, while one or two donkeys carry their odds and ends.

The Tuareg wear clothing that is loose and lightweight. In direct contrast to Arab custom, all of the men wear veils called tidjelmousts; the women do not wear veils. The most preferred tidjelmousts are dyed indigo, though many men wear black. To show respect, the men always cover their mouths, noses, and foreheads while in the presence of foreigners or their in-laws.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Though the Tuareg are virtually all Sunni Muslim, they have a reputation among other Muslims for being lukewarm in their faith. They practice a passive form of Islam, infused with folk beliefs and magic. Most do not even celebrate the most important Muslim fast of Ramadan.

What Are Their Needs?

There are few known Tahoua Tuareg believers in Mali. Prayer is the key to reaching these precious people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray that missions agencies and churches will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Tahoua Tuareg.
Pray that Gospel broadcasts will soon be produced in the Tamajeq language.
Pray that the small number of Tahoua Tuareg believers will rise to the challenge of taking the Gospel to their people.
Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Tuareg.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Tuareg who will boldly declare the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong fellowships of believers among the Tahoua Tuareg.

Scripture Prayers for the Tuareg, Tamasheq in Mauritania.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Tuareg, Tamasheq
People Name in Country Tuareg, Tamasheq
Natural Name Tamasheq Tuareg
Pronunciation TAM-uh-shek TWA-reg
Alternate Names Antessar; Bella; Kel Tamasheq; Kidal; Kidal Tuareg; Tahoua Tuareg; Tamacheq; Tamasheq; Timbuktu; Tuareg; Udalan
Population this Country 136,000
Population all Countries 939,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 3
People ID 15607
ROP3 Code 110232
ROP25 Code 308321
ROP25 Name Tuareg
Country Mauritania
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 23  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Mauritania
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 23  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Map of Tuareg, Tamasheq in Mauritania
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.04 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.96 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Tamasheq (136,000 speakers)
Language Code taq   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Timbuktu
Dialect Code 17148   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Tamasheq (136,000 speakers)
Language Code taq   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Timbuktu
Dialect Code 17148   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Tamasheq

Primary Language:  Tamasheq

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1953-1998)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2003-2006)
Bible-Complete No
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Tamasheq Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Tamasheq YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Tamasheq YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter Children and youth resources One Hope
Text / Printed Matter Jesus Messiah comic book General / Other
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Katja Tsvetkova - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

Joshua Project logo    Joshua Project    Terms of Use    Privacy Policy    Copyright © 2024