Reporters on the Job

Tuareg Tea Ceremony: While reporting today's story in southern Niger, correspondent Tristan McConnell spoke with Tuareg nomads and Hausa farmers, tribal foes who are now working to hold back the desert (see story). They live in the harsh climatic conditions of the edge of the Sahara. "Every few kilometers, we would come across a small, nomad encampment - a camel or two, and a family gathered around a hearth. The more permanent camps had stick huts covered with grass mats, one for the husband, one for the wife and children," says Tristan.

"What was striking to me, was that in the middle of this incredibly inhospitable landscape were people who couldn't be more hospitable. They had little, but were willing to share it with a strange white fellow asking questions," he says.

"The first thing everyone did was prepare a cup of Tuareg tea. That's Chinese green tea leaves in a clay teapot set on hot coals. The tea is drunk from a shot glass with lots of sugar. They pour the tea from glass to teapot, back and forth to aerate it. The men make the tea, and most families can only afford one glass. So I was handed a cup of tea, which I drained, then passed it back. Each of us would drink from that glass in turn. Then, we could sit and talk."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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