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Cure Sale festival

Christine Nesbitt

Rainfall is rare. Scorching heat regularly reaches 50 degrees celsius, even during the coolest part of the year. Land to graze the animals grows scarcer every year as the borders of the desert expand, pushing populations further south. The nomads of Niger live on bare necessities, no room for excess in lifestyle. Taking no more than they need from the land, they depend on its fruits for survival.

In search of the salt cure, Niger's nomads herd their livestock to an area near InGall, in the region of Agadez in Niger. Here, at the end of the rainy season, naturally occurring mineral salts are found in ground deposits, water or grasses and plants. Feeding on the salty food, cleanses the livestock's digestive systems of parasites, correcting their mineral deficiencies.

Held annually on the fringes of the Sahara, the vibrant 'Cure Sale' festival celebrates local nomadic tradition. The festival, literally meaning 'Salt Cure', brings together Niger's nomadic groups - Tuaregs, Fulani and Arabs. Friends and family members catch up on the news of the past year. Conducting business and barter before they continue their journey back to more fertile regions. The festival is a time to arrange weddings, to strengthen social bonds and to celebrate. InGall is the site selected for the official festival of nomadic culture that attracts dignitaries and tourists from around the world. Smaller versions of these traditional gatherings occur throughout the northern region at the end of the rainy season. Thousands of people come together for this...

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