JV’s paper on salt trade in Mali

JV read Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold by Michael Benanav over last weekend.  It is a quick read and well written.

Salt trade in the Sahara or the caravan of white gold

Salt trade starts in Timbuktu and goes to Taoudenni and back.  This roundtrip takes about a month and is done with camels.  The traders prepare the camels for the trip by letting them graze and relax for a month.  Then they take them on the trip; come back to let them graze again and then begin the trip all over again.

Food for the men

Before the trip a goat is slaughter and its carcass is hung on the side of a camel to dry.  As needed meat is pealed off and cooked to be eaten.  Butter is all so taken on the trip but goes rancid before the trip is complete.  Noodles also are eaten and there are three mandatory cups of very strong tea in the morning, noon, and evening.

Salt transport

When the caravan reaches Taoudenni, the pre-cut salt blocks are strapped in wet goat hide and are set to dry. The hides dry tightly around the salt making it secure for the trip. When completely dry, four are strapped on to each camel. Another goat is slaughtered and off the caravan goes back to Timbuktu.



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Filed under Geography and World Studies, JV, Writing

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