Ahoudan Drying His Pants

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AHOUDAN DRYING HIS PANTS: In this photo, Ahoudan and I were walking in the guelta near the village of Aouderas. He was taking me to a natural oasis, where I later went swimming with his son, Aghali. While we walked, I could not help but wonder why he was flying a kite. So I asked him. “A kite, what is a kite?” was his response. “I’m drying my pants.” How ingenious and hilarious at the same time.
For those of you who did not read my previous post on Ahoudan, following is a little bit about this extraordinary man: Ahoudan knew my parents before my birth, and helped raise me when I was growing up in Niger. He was my parent’s guide when they worked as photojournalists for National Geographic and other magazines. I grew up, among other places, in his village of Tabelotte, and travelled with him into the desert and mountains of Niger’s northern region.  My brother and I grew up with his children as our siblings.  In fact, his eldest daughter is my namesake. Her name, Alzhara, which is the name of a rare desert flower, is my middle name.  Today, Ahoudan remains my mentor and friend, and my greatest source of ancestral Touareg knowledge.  He has become a surrogate grandfather to my children, and has, among other things, spent days teaching my sons the art of stone carving.