How a people group lost their identity in Algeria

algeria-oran-santa| · Name: Kel-Tamahaq
| · Population: 40,000 (approx)
| · Country: Algeria
| · Muslim: 100%

Imagine waking up one morning in the middle of the great Sahara desert under a cobalt sky surrounded by arid breathtaking mountains and discovering that the water supply you’d left outside your tent is frozen solid (temperatures vary very significantly in the desert each 24 hours). This is not an uncommon experience for the Kel-Tamahaq people of the stark and beautiful Hoggar Mountains of Southern Algeria, at altitudes of up to almost 3,000 meters. Once well visited by tourists, the civil unrest of recent years in the north of the country has left a dearth of tourist activity and loss of income even in this remote southern region. (Algeria has suffered over 100,000 deaths through civil unrest based on Islamic terrorism and the resulting military and police repression during the last 10 years).

The “Arabisation”

The Kel-Tamahaq, once sole inhabitants of the southern desert region, are now a small marginalised minority among the ever growing Algerian Arabic population moving down from the North. The “Arabisation” of their people and the consequent loss of both their language and their cultural identity has all but destroyed them. The Kel-Tamahaq are considered little more than living curios of the past by the majority population and in much the same way have long been the object of cultural curiosity for Western anthropologists. Literally hundreds of books have been written about them and their unique nomadic way of life over the decades. However in spite of several translation attempts many decades ago, the Book of books (the Bible) has never been accessible to the Kel-Tamahaq, and there are no known believers in this (now sedentarised) unreached people group.


The Kel_Tamahaq are one of the smaller of different groups of Tuaregs (speaking different dialects) spread over the Sahel region of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In these other dialects there are small groups of believers. However, none of them have yet caught the vision to reach out to their northern cousins.


Flag of Algeria


Map of Algeria

Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where the Kel-Tamahaq live rejoice. Let the people of the Hoggar sing for joy, let them shout from the mountaintops. (based on Isaiah 42:11)

Prayer Guide for the Hoggar Tuaregs of Algeria

* Pray for divine intervention in the lives of influential Hoggar Tuaregs via dreams, Christian radio broadcasts, dissatisfaction with their religious situation, encounters with Christian tourists, the Jesus film on Satellite TV etc.

* Pray for the President as he struggles with militant groups of other minority peoples in Algeria the current national policy making may greatly influence the Tamahaq people and their ability to function openly as a unique cultural entity.

* Pray for the city of Tamanrasset where some of the Kel-Tamahaq have settled.

* Pray for the two groups who are actively praying and strategising to reach the Kel-Tamahaq.

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