1998 THE SAHARA


<風の樹>
Tree of wind
200x200x700
Niger Tenere
ニジェール テネレ地区

 

A MEMORY OF SANDS

No sight of a shadow or a cloud in the middle of the Sahara.
A truck with our stuff that left for Agades last night, a town at the entrance of the desert, has not came back yet.
They have gone there to exchange a broken welding machine with a generator.
The Sahara's sands are fine.
The sands are a trouble because they crawl into the rotary part of generators or welding machines and civilization comes to a stop like a magic trick.

In a moment, the rising sun transforms the night scenery,-4℃ with the calm and repeating wind patterns, into a desperate scene of sands at 48℃ in a moment.
The iron carried from Agades had already become too hot to touch with bare hands.
Unfamiliar beetles like black beans appeared from somewhere without my notice and they were running around here and there near my feet under the flaming sun.
I guessed that their extraordinary long legs might have evolved to protect
themselves from the burning heat.
They seemed that they were at full career saying "hot, hot, hot…."
Momentarily, I had been turning my thought toward my time which I had followed with my short legs while gazing at their comical actions, the long legs with high speed revolution.

Mr.Ancan, a guide of the desert said "A sandstorm is coming soon" and he cast a cloud over his face.
There was a deep well in Tenere. It was an oasis used by the caravan with camels carrying rock salt.

I heard some years ago, there was only one acacia living as a landmark.
It withered because a big truck crashed into it.
I knew that an increasing number of caravans lost sight of the well because of the sandstorm and got lost.
So, I organized a project to build an object as a landmark.

From the back of the hills which the beetles ran away, the truck came back.
Our third welding machine which was brought to us was also secondhand.
But even if it was an old one, it was an important product of civilization in such a desert town where no one needed it any more.
It seemed to be one of the better ones this time and it barely worked.
I had no other power-machines except the welding machine.
Only reliable things for me were a lever, a rope, a wire and manpower of some Japanese and local people from the desert.
The sweat pouring off our skin vaporized and changed to white powder.
Then, all of us, black faces or yellow faces were painted alike like the people in the desert.
I installed the characters made by iron which are in the shape of [N] [S] [W] [E] and built a tower of 15m high in the middle of the characters to be recognized at a distance.
Even a spark of welding is tiny under the flaming sun in the desert.

A captain riding on a camel at the head said "I have been able to see it since 3 days ago" with a smile.
A boy of the caravan put two V-shaped boughs at a rim of the well and put a pulley (chipped from wood) between the V.
He drew water with a bucket made by a big tire tied to a rope.
A sound of grinding woods with a vague sense of sadness has been played on the heated sands for many hundred years without changing its sounds.
"What a gift!" The leader left a message.
The caravan supplied enough water and they left slowly heading for the direction between [W] and [S].
As Mr.Ancan anticipated, the beetles disappeared to somewhere and a sandstorm began to blow.

From the corner of my pocket that returned to Tokyo, a wire curved like a [U] appeared with desert sand.
                               

KUMA