Akoubounou's Shiriken Festival: Preserving Tuareg Culture
In spring, around April, the commune of Akoubounou hosts the Shiriken Festival - a celebration of Tuareg culture and the camels that are integral to their traditional way of life. During the day, spectators watch a number of demonstrations organized by the community including live Tuareg blues music, camel races, and camel dancing (yes, the riders make their camels dance to live drum music). Men decorate their prized mounts with talismans, multicolored tassels, and leather bags before riding them through the crowds. Artisans convene to sell handcrafted jewelry and bags under Tuareg tents. If you're interested in seeing this lively event, your best option for accommodation is the Tendé Guest House in Abalak. It's simple but clean and very well maintained. Contact local tour operators in Niamey for information about specific dates (it changes from year to year) and information on how to reach the town.
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