The Sahara is a mythic landscape that had long affixed itself to my imagination. While reporting on the precariousness of Niger for National Geographic (see “Surrounded by chaos, Niger is a nation on the edge”), photographer Pascal Maitre and I spent a week traveling through the desert. Our sojourn was not a gratuitous one. In a metaphorical sense, the desert represents for Niger the end of order. In more practical terms, it is also the country’s link to its increasingly unstable neighbors: Libya and Algeria to the north, Mali to the west, and Chad to the east. In other words, one cannot hope to understand the plight of Niger without recognizing the role of the Sahara.
The easy mistake