The Fulani are the largest surviving group of nomads on the planet. In Walking with Abel, Anna Badkhen embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys - nomadic herders in Mali's Sahel grasslands - as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It's a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat - from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty - brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they've contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries.
Dubbed "Anna Bâ" by the nomads who embrace her as one of their own, Badkhen narrates the Fulani's journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani's Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. Together they cross the Sahel - the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic - with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales infused with the myths that ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their future.