Pat and Richard in West Africa 2011 travel blog

Local people going to market

Tuareg and Fulani cattle herders

The landscape in Mali

Dogon houses

Dogon granaries

Back in wi-fi land - or "wiffy" as they call it here!

We left Sevare to drive to Bandiagara in Dogon Country. The Dogon are a tribe who inhabit a 250km stretch of plateau, valley and rock face in the east of Mali. They farm maize, sorghum and millet and the women spend a large portion of their day pounding the millet so they can eat it. There are lots of large baobab trees around and they use the new leaves to make a sauce and the bark is used to make rope and also to ferment the millet beer the men drink. There is also a fruit of the baobab tree and inside the fruit is a powder they add to water to make a drink - I tried it and it wasn't good!

On the way we left the car on the side of the road (with one of the locals paid to look after it) and walked around 2km to the village of Teli. It was about 2pm and very hot with little shade so we were very hot and tired when we reached the village. Fortunately they had a fridge (petrol) and plenty of cold Coke and we rested in the shade and talked to the locals for a while until it was cooler. Then we were taken on a tour of the village by a local guide - he spoke English but had learned it from the Japanese tourists, so it was interesting to hear a black African speaking English with a Japanese accent!

Dogon villages are made of mud with houses consisting of a large main room where the man and the boy children sleep, then a separate room for each of his wives and their children - though often they do not know which children belong to which mother as they all grow up together and often mothers feed each other's children. The man has a granary where he stores his grain and each of his wives also have a (smaller) granary which is divided inside into 4 or 5 sections - one for her spices, one for her jewellery, one for her clothes and one for the week's food which the man doles out each week. Each wife takes a turn in cooking for everyone.

Behind the Dogon village up on the cliff face there was an ancient Tellem village. The Tellem were pygmies who were hunters of the animals in the valley - in those days there were lions and one of our guides said his grandfather talked of the lions attacking people and animals so it wasn't that long ago. People believed the Tellem could fly, not surprising really when you see where they used to live and where they buried their dead in clay jars way up on the cliff. You can still see the marks on the cliff where the body fluids leaked out.

We left Teli around 4.30 to walk back to the car - it was much cooler and very pleasant walking. On the way to our hotel at Bandiagarra we stopped in at another Dogon Village with the lovely name of Djigibombo. It was a large, very well kept village, and of course all the children suddenly materialised and wanted to hold our hands or have their photos taken. Some ask for presents but most just want our empty water bottles as they use these in their homes.

Back at the hotel and we relaxed with a cool beer or two, while a live band played African music in the bar upstairs. The hotel had a pet parrot called Cuckoo, in the evening he just wanted to sleep in the tree but it was a different matter the next morning when he kept pecking my ankles until I gave him pieces of bread.

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