- Kel Ayr
Kel Ayr (also Kel Aïr) were a semi-nomadic
Tuaregtribal confederation which ruled an area centered on the Aïr Mountians in what is today Niger.
Forming sometime after the 11th century CE, the Kel Ayr were one of the earlier Tuareg groups to arrive in the Aïr, helping to push out the
Hausa, later to become identified with Gobir(the Gobirawa) and other states to the south. Kel Ayr controlled the sendetary populations of the trading and farming centers in Assodé, Agadez, Ingall, Timiaand Iferouane. The Songhay Empireseized Agadez, Ingall, and centers to the south and west in 1500, but lost control before the end of the century. Along with the Kel Gress, Tesenand Issandalanconfederations, the Kel Ayr controlled the region and helped found the Sultanate in Agadez. In 1740 the large Kel Oweydestroyed the town of Assodé, sacked Agadez, placed the Sultanate of Agadezunder their control, and dispersed the Kel Ayer to the south and west. The confederation was then under the direct suzerainary of the Anastafidet, lord of the Kel Owey. Between the 1850s and the 1890s, the Kel Owey and the central Aïragain fell under control of the Key Ayr, and the Ayr again retained control of Agadez, the Kouar oases, and the Azalaisalt caravans, which they continue to operate.
As of the 1980s, population estimates for the Kel Ayr range from 55,000 to 20,000, in part because of the decision of which tribes to include, and whether to include the sedentary population (the
Ikelanor Bella) whom the Tuareg groups ruled until at least independence.
Existing Kel Ayr groups
To the west of Aïr in the
Kel Tamat(now more indentified with the Kel Owey) ~4800 in 1979
Ikazkazan(part centered near Arlit). A second branch is associated with the Kel Ulli/ Kel Gressto the south, near Zinder.
To the southwest of Aïr :
Kel Fadey(centered at Tchimoumenene; nomadize in regions around In Gall) ~1780 in 1979.
Igdalen(part). Igdalen sub groups form a religious class in many Tuareg confederatons
Kel Ferwan(or Kel Ferouane) To the south of Aïr, but originally migrating to Air in the 14th century CE. ~6000 in 1979.
In the colonial period the Kel Ayr led a large confederation which included most of these groups, but also held sway over the
Kel Oweyand Kel Tamatin the central Aïr Massif. [Paul E. Lovejoy. Transformations in Slavery - A History of Slavery in Africa. African Studies series No 36. Cambridge University Press (1983) ISBN 0521784301 pp. 217-220]
* Samuel Decalo. Historical Dictionary of Niger. Scarecrow Press, London and New Jersey (1979). ISBN 0810812290
* Jolijn Geels. Niger. Bradt London and Globe Pequot New York (2006). ISBN 1841621528.
* French Language Wikipedia entry
* Bernus E. 1981. Touareg nigériens: Unité culturelle et diversité régionale d'un peuple pasteur. ORSTOM, Paris. "This is the source of the 55,000 population figure."
* Karl G. Prasse. The Tuaregs: The Blue People. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1995. ISBN 978-87-7289-313-6.
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