Walking with Abel Journeys with the nomads of the African savannah

Anna Badkhen, 1976-

Book - 2015

"An intrepid journalist joins the planet's largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries"--

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Subjects
Published
New York, New York : Riverhead Books 2015.
Language
English
Physical Description
309 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781594632488
1594632480
Main Author
Anna Badkhen, 1976- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Badkhen's lyrical, off-the-beaten-path travel memoir also serves as a trenchant sociological study of one of the "planet's largest remaining group of nomads," the Fulani, of West Africa. Embedding herself with a Fulani family, she thoroughly immerses herself in their culture and their lifestyle—a curious hybrid of the primitive and the contemporary—as they, together with herds of cows, trek their way across the Mali savannah during their seasonal migration to the grasslands. Inevitably, the journey is dotted with incursions of modern life. Still, the Fulani display a remarkable ability to adapt to certain new realities while honoring centuries-old traditions. Badkhen, a seasoned reporter and author (The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village, 2013), vividly captures and communicates an increasingly rare and wondrous experience. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Award-winning reporter Badkhen (The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village) chronicles a family of Fulani herders, nomads of Mali's Sahel grasslands, as she joins them for their annual migration across the savanna. [Page 82]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Journalist and author Badkhen (The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village) recounts her experience with a multigenerational family of Fulani cattle herders during their annual transhumance migration to greener grazing across a stretch of the Sahel, a grassy region between the Sahara Desert and the Sudanian Savanna. Joining the Fulani in Mali, Badkhen presents vivid descriptions of day and nighttime sky, land and water, and the nomads' cattle and customs. These all contribute to the author's success in making Fulani culture come alive as she follows the herders' daily efforts to cope with drought, disease, and death in an often unforgiving landscape. Badkhen draws on references to travelers' writing throughout history—as distant as ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia—to contribute context to the traditional life of these 21st-century nomads whose young are tempted by the modern attractions of settled life and threatened by armed conflicts in the Sahara. Gray-scale illustrations of people and animals enhance a feeling of immediacy. VERDICT Recent books on present-day Fulani are for scholars or children; Badkhen makes intellectual and emotional connections that will appeal to anyone interested in Africa's nomadic peoples and readers of memoirs such as Cheryl Strayed's Wild. [See Prepub Alert, 3/2/15.]—Joel Neuberg, Santa Rosa Junior Coll. Lib., CA [Page 109]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

After years as a war correspondent, Badkhen (The World Is a Carpet) came to Mali in 2013 to live with the nomadic Fulani as they walk across Mali's savannah. This lyrical account of that journey eloquently describes the culture of the Fulani and is laced with ethereal sketches that reflect transitions in the author's life at the time. Badkhen combines journalistic observation with deep feeling as she grows to respect and then love the clan led by patriarch Oumarou. At first, her observations are refracted by her own emotional experience. "Every footfall begets a separation.... To spend a lifetime walking away. To bid farewell over and over..." However, as the year of herding the cattle across Africa progresses, Badkhen learns that the Fulani see their journey as a circle. The outside world intrudes in the form of unconnected cell phones that the boys use for music and videos. Overhead, French military planes go to bomb the rebels. But Oumarou leads his family through the timeworn route. The Fulani are individuals, not archetypes. Their journey is both beautiful and difficult. Soon the author believes that she will find no epiphany, only "stronger legs, skin sore from the sun, and thicker calluses." But she does find respite, which she tenderly renders in this exquisitely written book. Agent: Felicia Eth, Felicia Eth Literary Representation. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"An intrepid journalist joins the planet's largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"An intrepid journalist joins the planet's largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries. Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the borderregions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys--nomadic herders in Mali's Sahel grasslands--as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It's a cycle that connects the Fulani totheir past even as their present is increasingly under threat--from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty--brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they've contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries. Dubbed "Anna Ba" by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani's journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani's Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their--our--future"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A war correspondent and author traces her journeys with the world's largest group of nomadic herders during their annual migration across the savanna, a centuries-old tradition that is under threat by Islamic militants, climate change, and urbanization.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The war correspondent and author of The World Is a Carpet traces her journeys with the world's largest group of nomadic herders during their annual migration across the savanna, a centuries-old tradition that is under threat by Islamic militants, climate change and urbanization. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Look out for Anna Badkhen's new book, Fisherman's Blues: A West African Community at Sea, on sale March 2018An intrepid journalist joins the planet’s largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries. Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys—nomadic herders in Mali’s Sahel grasslands—as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It’s a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat—from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty—brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they’ve contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries. Dubbed “Anna Ba” by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani’s journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani’s Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their—our—future.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

An intrepid journalist joins the planet’s largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries.Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. InWalking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys—nomadic herders in Mali’s Sahel grasslands—as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It’s a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat—from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty—brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they’ve contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries.Dubbed “Anna Ba” by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani’s journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani’s Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their—our—future.