Name: Miranda Dodd
Arrived in Africa: 2000
African Languages: Pulaar (fulaani), Songai, Hassaniya
Ethnic Groups encountered: too many to list
Moved to Timbuktu: 2004
I am a Canadio-American who has lived in Africa for over 10 years. I arrived in Mauritania as a Peace Corps Volunteer and after four years doing health related development work including health education, well and latrine building and writing a book in Pulaar, I moved to Timbuktu where I eventually married a local man, a Tuareg chief, poet and historian. We now operate a small guest house/tour agency called Sahara Passion with sustainable economic development and ethical tourism as our founding principles.
I have spent my time in rural areas really living with the people. As such I have become very familiar with much of the local culture, many of the traditions and superstitions and attitudes. This gives me the insight to explain such things to the outside world who have not had the time to delve so deeply themselves.
There is a proverb in Pulaar that translates "even if a log spends ten years in the river it will never become a crocodile". It is true that I will never be fully integrated into the African society and there are some nuances that I will never fully understand as I was not raised with them as a part of me, however it is also true that sometimes outsiders see more clearly than those involved, at least when it comes to explaining, analysing and even recognizing what things are curious to the western mind.
I am fascinated by languages and ethnography; the way cultures absorb and adapt where they rub edges with neighbours. The multitude of ethnic groups that bump and mingle in west Africa gives rise to the potential for extensive linguistic and ethnographic study. I have not the time nor resources to do a thorough and serious study of it all but this site is in part the results of some amateur efforts in that respect.