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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.