Tuareg Confederacies & Territories


Tuareg Cconfideracies

Coloured regions of the Sahara & North Africa, showing the locations of Tuareg confederacies & territories.


The Tuareg Tribes of The Sahara

The Tuareg are the native inhabitants of the Sahara desert, in North Africa, since immemorial time, and there are no records of anyone else inhabiting the Sahara before them. The Tuareg Berber tribes of the Sahara are known by various names including the local Tuwareq (الطوارق), Tuareq or Twareq, and the international forms Twareg, Tauareg, Tuwareg, Tuarek or Touareg, all of which are the plural form of the singular name Targi.

By nature they are nomadic tribes, moving from oasis to another in search of pasture and water, with settled groups in the oases, like Ghat and Ghadames in Libya. The Tuareg are a Berber group of tribes who speak Tamazight language, which is a Berber language belonging to the Afroasiatic (Afrasiatic) or Hamito-Semitic linguistic family; and hence they call themselves Imushagh ("The Speakers of Tamazight ['Berber Language']"). The Tuareg have a number of variants for the name Tamazight, mainly Tamaheqt, Tamasheght, Tamajeght or Temesheght. 



Tuareg Confederacies

According to the Berber Tuareg system of government a confederacy is a group of related or neighbouring tribes most of which consist of a group of clans. For example the Azger confederacy is composed of forty-one tribes (see below for details). These confederacies are in fact the "kingdoms" of the later times. According to the Berber Tuareg of the Sahara the king of the confederacy is called Amenukal.

The Tuareg territories are divided into various confederacies or federations, each of which originally had its own traditions and tribal laws. Traditional Berber government consists mainly of an egalitarian council of elders (the old people of the community), who meet to discuss and decide the affairs of the community. The above map lists the Tuareg confederacies as Saltanate or Sulthanate. The confederacies are colour-coded, and their names are as follows:

  1. Pink (top right): Azger Confederacy: located in Algeria and Libya (including the oases of Ubari & Ghat).

  2. Pink (lower right): Ayer Confederacy: located in Niger, also written Aïr, Air or Ayr.

  3. Pink (left): Awellimedden  & Kel Athram Confederacy: located in Mali, includes Timbuktu.

  4. Yellow (top): Ahoggar Confederacy, located in Algeria: includes the oasis of Tamanrasset.

  5. Yellow (middle): Tkerekrit Confederacy: located in Niger & Mali (including the oasis Agadir & Tawa).

  6. Light-Blue: Tamezgda Confederacy, located in Niger.

  7. Orange (below 4): Agres [Kel Gress] Confederacy: located in Niger and Mali.



The Desert Shows You Nothing; You Must Find Everything.

Tuareg Fighters

Picture an old, spirited, Targi man, passing by a team of young and energetic dancers. He gets drawn in, and soon laughter rises into the night sky as he fails to imitate them; how could he! But then a couple of determined turns and quick twists the desert sand rises into the sky beneath his cracked bare feet, and to the amazement of the youngsters he elegantly succeeds in out-performing their  best and ashamedly forcing them to  leave the scene one by one, eyes down. Experience and subtlety among other things are the theme of this dance. Tuareg dance is advanced and wonderful to watch and enjoy, but unfortunately not easy to interpret.


The Tuareg Political Groups

According to other sources, the Tuareg society is divided into the following political groups, which thus can be considered as confederacies:


  1. Azjer (Kel Ajjer), located in the Tassili-n-Ajjer Mountains.

  2. Ahaggaren (Kel Ahaggar), also known as Ihoggaren, located in the Ahoggar region.

  3. Ifora (Kel Adrar), located in the in the Foras Mountains ( of Adrar-n-Foras).

  4. Abzin (Kel Air), located in the Massif of Air: Abzin is often mentioned as Asben (meaning: 'the Air Massif').

  5. Itesan (Kel Gress), located south of Abzin.

  6. Awellimidden (Iwllemmeden, Oulliniden, Auellimmedden).

  7. Kel Tadmaket, located around Timbuktu.

  8. Isandalan, located south of the Niger bend.

  9. Kel Owey, located in the central part of Air.

  10. Kel Ferwan, located Iferouane.