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CAE Paper 1 Reading (part2) Read the article about a music festival in the Sahara and match paragraphs A-G with the gaps 1-6. There is one extra paragraph. There's little beyond the remote Malian town of Timbouctou but a vast expanse of desert. Most people consider it the end of the Earth, and even its residents rarely venture north into the Sahara. But for one day in January, a host of musicians, politicians, tourists and technicians gather in the town's market place, preparing to head north into the dunes. As people fill their jeeps with diesel and supplies and travellers send quick postcards home , it's hard not to get swept up in the excitement and anticipation of the remotest music festival on Earth. 1 The Tuareg, a nomadic group who inhabit the Sahara, have a more appropriate form of transport, arriving on white camels from every direction. In all, there are 1,800 of them at the festival. It isn't surprising, because the event grew out of an annual Tuareg get-together. 2 As the Tuareg cook over campfires, the tourists settle into their tents and explore the festival site . But soon everyone is beating a path towards the concreted stage, a strange sight in the middle of scrub and sand. The sun goes down and charcoal braziers light up the dunes. Then bands from Mali and neighbouring countries like Senegal, Niger and Mauritania take the stage, playing calabashes. Lutes and talking drums. There's a group of dancers from Niger decorated with beads and covered in body paint. There are Western performers too. Although some are not to everyone's taste. As one group hit their electric guitars and yell into the microphones, an old Malian lady claps her hands over her ears and scuttles off. 3 As a tourist attraction, the festival is still in its infancy. There are no more than 500 foreigners present. most of whom feel lucky to be witnessing something 'authentic'. Beyond the odd soft drinks stall there is little sign of the sponsorship or the pro motive that underpin most World Music festivals. 4 A music festival may seem an odd mechanism for kick-starting tourism all year round, but this is the intention. In the eyes of Ndiaye Bah, Mali's minister of tourism and handicrafts, Malian music is already one of the country's main draws, making the festival an obvious place to start. She is convinced that the north contains enough potential to support year round tourism. In fact most people agree that tourism growth is the only way forward for the Tuareg. The north of Mali is the poorest part of the country. As Bah explains . there are few opportunities for the Tuareg. They need people to come and buy handicrafts and stay in local hotels, to bring employment and development to the region. 5 But this sort of envy only exists between the Tuareg because the festival is seen to be a good thing. In fact, for now, the event enjoys almost universal support. And similar events are springing up in neighbouring countries like Mauritania too, with the Tuareg organisers of the Festival in the Desert fast becoming consultants. 6 The Tuareg dance and sing. Dicko explains, and afterwards they talk about their problems. He is studying to be a doctor in Timbouctou and his village is far away. At the festival he can meet his family and other people from his village for the first time in two years. Perhaps it's to people such as Dicko, who've given up the nomadic lifestyle to live in towns such as Timbouctou, that the festival bring the greatest pleasure. A With such obvious popularity, who knows what the future may hold for the Timbouctou festival. But for now, at Ieast, it still retains its original purpose as a get-together for the Tuareg people themselves. B But despite this lack of commercialism, there's no doubt that the benefit. of tourism are h ere for local people. The Tuareg stroll between the tents setting out purses, compasses and swords for tourists to buy or offering camel rides. Dicko, my young Tuareg friend, explains that cash spent by tourists filters back into the Sahara, The Tuareg, it seems, bring with them jewellery and handicrafts made by people in their villages. They sell these at the festival and use the money to buy maize, sugar and millet in Timbouctou which they take back to the villages. C In fact, as the event's organizer Manny Ansar explains, Tuareg have been meeting at this oasis for centuries. In this spot they have traditionally arranged marriages, swapped news, raced camels and made music. They decided to open the music festival to enable their musicians to mix with others and because they felt it was time for their community to get in touch with the outside world. D Meanwhile. the sustainability of the festival itself has been called into question. Westerners say that if the festival gets too big. it will lose its authentic feel .And anyway it appears to have reached capacity already - tempers got so frayed that a Dutch woman who was queuing for one of the two small ferries struck a driver for jumping the queue. E To get as far as Timbouctou, l spent three days driving from Mali's capital, Bamako, and four hours queuing for a small ferry over the River Niger. But as the convoy of four wheel drives headed into the dunes, chucking up dust behind it, it became clear that the final stretch was the trickiest part of the journey. The track was soon lined with jeeps which had overheated Or were stuck in deep sand. One group of tourists told me that their jeep had broken down within earshot of the music, but they hadn't dared venture on foot into the des rt , preferring to sleep in the vehicle. The next day they found that the festival site was just ten minutes away from where they had been sleeping. F There are few concerns about the environmental impact of the festival. Every single plastic bottle is taken away by the Tuareg for use in the desert. But conflict between Tuareg could be more of a problem. An elderly man complains that the festival started out as a moveable event with a different site each year, bringing benefits to different parts of the Sahara. But for the past two years it has been held in the same place because it is easier to build a permanent stage in the dunes here. 'Why can't we have a festival where I come from ?' he asks. G But while rock groups might no t produce the desired effect on everybody at the festival, Tuareg bands do, and they feature more prominently than any others. Their Tuareg fans watch from the seats of their camels. From the ground, it's hard to see over the hundreds of indigo turbans that are standard attire for the tribesmen. This is clearly a Tuareg event, but there is little sense of being an outsider. As I shovel sand to try to gain some height, my Tuareg neighbours usher me forward for a better view. The sense of intimacy and respect among the small crowd is remarkable.
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