Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dogon country, Burkina Faso and on to Ghana

Cruiser going south
Songho village rock paintings
The Dogon country is a completely different area to the rest of Mali. We saw some amazing rock formations, some interesting villages where the Dogon people live their traditional lifestyle, having taken over from the Telli people who lived here before them.

Your insurance broker is not going to like this!
At Borko we saw them live in harmony with the
Harmony is possible
Photography class
These must come from The Lord of the Rings!
crocodiles, and at Songho they showed us the traditional rock paintings that they renew every three years when they initiate the young boys. It was good to see how people try to maintain their traditions, and also seek to develop a local tourist industry, but unfortunately we could not find any information about it before times. Every village has a camping site and a place to stay over, which we did not know, otherwise we would have stayed in Borko, and maybe in some of the other villages.
Songho village
At the same time we were brought under the impression of the differentiation between the roles of men and women. Granaries with little roofs are men's granaries, contain millet for sale, and have one opening only. Women's granaries have different openings and contain groundnuts, cassava, and so on. Which means that the men are the only ones to trade, while women have the responsibility of feeding the household. This extends to other roles, but then the Mayor at Borko was a pleasant, efficient woman who obviously enjoyed the respect of her villagers, maybe because she was not beneath taking a broom to the toilets to see that the visitors are comfortable!

Unfortunately the dependence on tourism has another side too. Guides are pushy and sometimes downright rude, which led us to avoid guides wherever possible, which was probably not the right thing to do. Also, a downturn in this sensitive industry can have devastating effects, so the Government should see how the people could be cushioned against a downturn. And, I have to say this against my usual policy, Government has to see how to regulate the tourism industry. At least a little!

Millet is the staple food
One of our group came down with a high fever, while we were in Bandiagara, and so we left in haste for Ouagadougou, probably not the right thing to do, as the locals know what diseases are around their patch.

The road to Burkina Faso
A nightmare drive on terrible roads, clueless burocrats at the border, punctures, and driving into a city we do not know in the dark, looking for a place that was hidden inside a bus depot was not fun at all. The hospital in Ouaga tested our friend negative for malaria, but thought that he may have Dengue fever, although expensive tests would only give results two weeks later. Instead we headed for the Ghana border.
Ride your bull!

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