Book review: People of the Veil ~ Francis Lord Rennel of Rodd


People of the Veil ~ Being an Account of the Habits, Organisation and History of the Wandering Tuareg Tribes which inhabit the Mountains of Air or Asben in the Central Sahara
Francis Lord Rennel of Rodd, 1926, o/p


The titled Rodd was the son of a diplomat who appeared to take a gap year in 1922 to study the Tuareg of the Aïr and the Damergu region around Tanout. He came up from then British Nigeria with Angus Buchanan and another guy and travelled in the region (with a visit to Termit) for nine months, possibly motivated by an ancestor who’d travelled in the region in the nineteenth century. Like so many people, he became enamoured with the Aïr Tuareg, but what we get here is a thorough anthropological treatise in the Kel Tagelmoust, as the Tuareg call themselves (‘Tuareg’ is a derogatory Arabic description for ‘Godless’). Their customs, architecture, origins as well as the landscape around them are all detailed intimately with only occasional descriptions and insights into Rodd’s travels. The many accompanying plates ar rather drab and a small map is included.

This book would only appeal to those looking for rare English-language anthropological detail on the Tuareg (Jeremy Keenan’s republished book on the Ahaggar Tuareg is another source) or those with a close interest in exploring the Aïr mountains.