Mali: Sahel Journey
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 11 - Songo

  Songo villiage, Dogon country, Mali

When you get to Songo there is a sign that says, "Welcome to Songo" and no children with their hands out saying, "Give me, give me, give me!" Though less than 5 miles from the main road and a major ceremonial site, Songo doesn't seem to get much tourism -- though it would love more -- and its people are markedly less jaded than those on the escarpment and the cost of a guided village tour is a great value.

Dogon male granary, Songo, MaliWe spent a couple hours walking around Songo, discussing culture, religion and lifestyle, and looking at things. We revisited many of the topics that we had discussed early on the tour, such as women and education, general education, health care, safe drinking water, the relationship between traditional practices and the relatively new worship of Islam, weaving, architecture, village planning, tourism, economic activity and Dogon history. In some case the more we "learned" the less we seemed to know.  There is a lot of contradictory information being offered in these parts. None the less each new resource person added one more perspectives to our understanding of the subjects.Mosque, Songo, Dogon Country, Mali

Dogon male circumcision ceremony site, SongoOn our tour of the village we saw schools, mosques, granaries, weavers, a circumcision ceremony site, and sacred instruments. The musical instruments were only taken out and used during the circumcision ceremony. Definitely the most interesting part of the tour is theDogon granary, Songo, Mali circumcision site and the explanation of its function.


Sacred instruments (it is believed that if a pregnant woman hears these instruments she will miscarry):

Current circumcision site:

Traditional circumcision site (this is a cave, near the old village site, on top of a hill (upper left of first photo), with difficult access):

Relaxing back at the campement:

Relaxing near a togona

Addendum: Songo has succeed in its desire to attract more tourist.  Concurrently, the price of village tours has gone up and the quality of tour guides' commentary has diminished.  Being more like just another road side attraction, we tend not to overnight there as much.



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