This is a story of a man and his camels and a stretch of sand.
It is the story of Philippe Frey and his epic journey from the eastern ways bordering the Red Sea till the end at the Atlantic Ocean at Mauretania. He travels with two camels and he rides one of them or he walks. He meets people from the desert, he crosses borders, he meets camels, sells and buys and he is an expert in these wiry animals, the kings of the desert. He is familiar with all the different groups that travel (be it less and less) and inhabit the sandy ways of that formidable desert, called Sahara. He travels through areas prone to insurgencies, prone to pending disaster. He describes the characters of his animals, his fellow travelers. He avoids the roads well travelled, he looks for the sandtracks far from the beaten track. He struggles for survival. He shows his endurance and knowledge of the environment.
It was not his first journey in the shifting sands. Frey is an academic ethnologist, who spent many years in these forgotten places. It was not his last journey, for he still travels, not always on his own, but often with groups to let them encounter the harshness of a different world. He is a professor at French universities. He is not your average ivory tower academic.
He published this book in 1992, and many more books followed, on his favourite subject: deserts. The person who translated this book into Dutch had some trouble in noting the difference between Nigeria and Niger. Fortunately several maps are included.
Philippe Frey – Nomade Blanc: le Sahara d’est en ouest en solitaire – 1992.