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Niger

 
Author Solivagant
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 15 Nov 2021 04:45 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have a bit more to add on Niger's T List site of Lougou.
It seems better to grant Niger the respect of having its own "topic" - even if it isn't likely to generate a lot of activity!
So I start it here .
These are the links to the 2 "Niger related" posts placed yesterday under T List Categories
a. A run down of its T List and proposed categories
b. An introduction to Lougou

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 15 Nov 2021 05:02 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have actually managed to track down a bit more about the T List site of Lougou - and, in particular, its current state
a, This (very expensive!) book in French which, I believe shows the Queen's current living accommodation
b. This article on the theft and (possible??) destruction of the sacred stone in 2018 - the stone referred to in the UNESCO T LIst description "Le site de Lougou est également le lieu de culte le plus important où se trouve la Saraounia avec les objets de cultes comme Tunguma, la pierre sacrée du jugement. Ce fut cette pierre sacrée Tunguma qui guida la première Reine Saraounia du Daoura à Lougou."
c. This 14 minute movie from 2016 showing the reality of Lougou today and the beneficial impact of installing a water pump for the village. Mention is made of the Queen and her lodging is shown .... but nothing is mentioned about the sacred stone etc etc.

The movie and the article about the theft indicate sharply the reality of life in Lougou ... They have a lot more to worry about than WHS inscription!!

Author elsslots
Admin
#3 | Posted: 15 Nov 2021 09:02 
Solivagant:
. This 14 minute movie from 2016 showing the reality of Lougou today

Maybe we could put a reward out for the first WH traveller to visit.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 16 Nov 2021 04:18 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
Maybe we could put a reward out for the first WH traveller to visit.

Probably my final post on this! Niger (beyond Niamey) seems generally currently to be in the "Do not visit" category as recommended by most countries. It may be pessimistic, but it would seem likely for things to get far "worse" before they (if ever) get better. Across over 60+ years of travel I have seen many countries enter and leave the "Not available to visit" category - but the trajectory in this area doesn't seem hopeful. In 1974 I had even planned to cross from N Nigeria into Niger (but finished up spending all my time in Nigeria) - safety beyond normal care from theft etc wasn't an issue. We also visited N. Burkina Faso in 2007 without any concern - but not now!

Continuing my research thead on the T List Site of Logou and its relationship to the atrocities of the Voulet-Chanoine Mission in 1899 I have come across a documentary movie from as recently as early 2020 - done by an independent company (but primarily "for" the BBC?). In it, the British Nigerian ("Activist, Poet, Musician, Actor and Linguist" and Oxford graduate) Femi Nylander (who speaks Hausa), follows the route of the Voulet-Chanoine Mission and traces the atrocities and the ongoing impact of them to this day in the towns through which he passes and on Nigerien and West African cultures etc more generally. It is available on BBC iPlayer and worth viewing if you can. It compares Voulet to the fictional Kurtz of "Heart of Darkness" (published just a few weeks before the Lougou massacre).

Notably he only follows the main Trans Niger highway RN1 and doesn't branch off the c 25kms to see Lougou - indeed, neither that location nor its "queen" (past or present) get a mention. This may say something about the road to get there, what is "on view" when when one arrives, or even the cooperation one might or might not get from the Queen - without which a visit might seem not worthwhile (though in general he finds plenty of friendly and willing participants).! In any case, there were plenty of other atrocities elsewhere along the route (and even a sacred shrine to visit which protected another village!). He is accompanied by Nigerien army/security personnel and 2 minders/guides/fixers the whole way.

Author wojtek
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 16 Nov 2021 13:11 | Edited by: wojtek 
I visited Niger in 2019 and by then the city of Agadez and all the areas around RN1 road were safe. We visited some T-List sites on the way (Zinder, Madarounfa, Palais du Zarmakoye, Zone Giraffe) and with some extra effort we would have visited Lougou. We were however strongly advised against going to "W" National Park, the area of Air and Tenere was problematic too. The situation did not improve since then but even now Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (always exaggerating risks) treats areas around RN1 as not in the highest risk category. So I assume Lougou is doable now.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#6 | Posted: 16 Nov 2021 14:28 | Edited by: Solivagant 
wojtek:
ven now Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (always exaggerating risks) treats areas around RN1 as not in the highest risk category

Purely out of interest and without any criticism of what anyone else does - we each have to make our own personal decisions on where and how to travel in relation to our own wider responsibilities, risk profile, financial situation, desire/"need" to visit certain places etc but I wondered if Polish "Travel Insurance" is the same as in UK. If I were to travel to Niger that would be regarded as "not following Foreign Office advice" and any normal Travel insurance would be invalidated . So - appendicitis, road accident etc etc - indeed any hopitalisation or medical treatment arising from any cause whatsoever would not be covered. So, irrespective of whether one regards the trip as "doable", as you say, in relation to the low risk of events arising from the prime reasons for the FO advice, in travelling there at all one would have to take on, in total, all the extra financial "risks" from the, possibly far more likely, "travel events" which would normally be insured for! That would be true even if we were only visting an "orange" (= Advise only for "essential travel") rather than a "red" (advise against all travel) area. The RN1 is largely in such an orange area for UK citizens but but I know of no insurance company which would regard visiting Lougou (etc) as "essential travel"!!
Unfortunately this means that even if we thought that the FO were "exaggerating" in the same way as the Polish Foreign Office we would have to accept that we would be travelling totally uninsured. Many people do this without problem, but it does mean that travel decisions couldn't be made purely on our, possibly even better informed, views of the security etc situation. The result of course is to make one a prisoner of one's Foreign Office views which will always err on the side of caution. For the vast majority of Brits who prefer to travel with insurance, Niger is effectively "off limits". As is Burkina Faso (now completely "red" apart from Ouaga) and much of West Africa (all of N Nigeria is red or orange) - a situation which wasn't the case even a few years ago.

Author wojtek
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 16 Nov 2021 15:46 
I have researched this issue very well - my personal travel insurance is valid for all countries that are not totally "red". Even if I follow strict interpretation of this rule and apply it for "regions" instead of "countries", travelling around RN1 would be covered. I have no detailed knowledge about the British insurance market (however, I know it is much more developped and effective than the Polish one), but I am quite sure that if you shop around - maybe including international insurers - you will find an insurance that covers Niger.

Anyway, you pointed out an important issue that should be considered by everybody. Personally, having researched the insurance thing, I ignore all travel warnings that are not "red", even for trips with my wife and children. For "red" regions, I do additional research and assess the risk. In most cases, the assessment results in a decision "go".

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 Niger

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