Sonntag, 3. Januar 2010
25. 12. Entering Dogon country: Sanga
Waking up, our truck was surrounded by children already. Women, children, men were carrying water from the village well, some had carts, a few even had donkeys. Women from the Dogon villages walk 15 km bringing their firewood to exchange it for food.
Our host offered to go with us Sanga, because there was no paved street going there, and he knew a very nice way.
Dogon country is an attraction for 4-wheel-drive luxury tourists. You only can only get there on mud roads, the villages are simple, there is no electricity. In the bigger villages they have a few tourist hotels with generators, the water for the showers is brought from the village well on donkey carts and poured into the sanitary system. Usually, it takes a lot of money and time to get there to explore the ancient rock habitations of the Dogons and Telem.
Sanga is one of the starting points to the Falaise de Bandiagara, the 140 km long rock, 250-300 high, with ancient habitations everywhere high in the rock, even in overhanging areas. The mud road from Sanga to Banani leads from the upper side of the rock to its bottom, from where you can climb to some of the habitations.
On the way to Sanga, we passed small villages with a small belt of green fields around. A dam built by US-Aid makes it possible.
We stopped on a beautiful rock formation, and immediately children appeared, shouting in a quite demanding way: “Hello, money!”
In the early afternoon we arrived Sanga: wonderful old trees, beautiful clay buildings, we were impressed. Children were running towards us as usual, shouting “cadeau” (present), “argent” (money) and “chemise” (shirt). Whenever we wanted to take a picture, they shouted “No! – This is not allowed!”
At the entrance of the expensive hotel on the top of the hill we found instructions, how to behave: only explore the village with a guide, there are many restricted areas, the authorized guides would tell. Never take children as guides, or give them money or presents. Give things to the teacher or the elders of the village, they will distribute.
I went out to take pix of the trees, surrounded by shouting children. Then looking for the market, which was on another hill over the creek. Some children followed, children and adults asked for money all time.
The market was small, as usual women working, selling mostly food. Immediately I was surrounded by women, who wanted to sell their indigo cloth really urgently. I bought some mangoes, grinded peanuts, bakery - everything had the price of 500,- CFA (approx. Eur 1,-), but it made the women smile, and people started to leave me alone.
The market place was quite clean, with some trash on the fringes, mostly organic. Here I found a broken plastic bucket, coloured blue and yellow like many plastic items you find here, so I had to take it as a dividend for one of our lucky shareholders. Suddenly all the friendly women warned me and said, that I should not take this, this is not good! It is waste, dirty and broken, don´t take it.
Happy about my finding I walked back to the other hill, on the foot of it there was supposed to be a festival of traditional music starting soon. We had the appointment to meet in the cheap hotel next to the festival site, Manuel would bring the truck there as well. New children followed me, I tried to ignore them. They touched me and my broken bucket. “Tranquille, tranquille!”, I said (calm down).
I collected some more trash, so they started to collect trash for me, hoping for “argent”. I did not want to make this business, keeping in mind, that you should not take the services of children. They collect more money from their tourist hustling than their hard working parents earn in a month, and then they lose respect of them, their teachers, the elders… So no, thank you, and “tranquille!”
Walking side by side, one of the girls started to hum a melody, and then another one started to drum on a rusty metal pot she had collected for me, and I joined them drumming on my bucket. It was a wonderful band.
Suddenly we were out of the village, and I was lost. I asked the children for the festival site, they did not know of a festival. I asked old people, young people, nobody knew. A boy approached me, introduced himself as a “guide”, I said I just would like to know the way to the festival site. He waved to the left and said, that it is not possible for me to go there, because it is forbidden - I can only go there, when I pay him to go with me. Many (local) adults were walking the ways, so I did not believe him, said good bye and walked in the direction he had shown before, followed by my crowd of approximately 7 children, humming and drumming. I entered a clay village structure with tight paths between the houses, sometimes opening to small squares where mostly men were sitting and talking (the women worked out on the fields). They looked at me in surprise, but answered when I greeted. Many houses were open, and all the time some of my children were shouting: “Don´t take a photograph”. The drumming girl then gestured them to be quiet: “tranquille, tranquille!”, and told me, that I can take photographs. These are not my favourite conditions to take pictures, so I decided to switch off the cam and simply walk through the village, look and enjoy.
On the other side, I recognized the place, and in some distance I spotted our truck. The sun went down already, and I happily walked into the hotel. The children stayed out, our song was over. I decided to buy the metal pot drum from the girl for a few coins, why should it always be the men who win in this hustling business. And we were a band by now anyhow.
The owner of the hotel told me, that the other were at the festival and showed me the direction. Back out of the quiet refuge, children behind me, but after a few meters Manuel and Stefan came and described, what was going on there: a few drummers, not too good, some dancers, and some (white) tourists with their guides as audience. Entrance was Eur 6,-, so we decided to eat. While we were talking, the children kept trying to sell their trash to Manuel and Stefan.
The menu of the simple hotel was surprisingly rich. After an hour waiting for the food, Manuel looked into the kitchen: the owner was standing there with a torch tucked under his arm, cutting vegetables. Satisfied we waited another hour or two, and then he served us the best meal we´ve had for a long time.
After eating, Igor and I wanted to have another look at the festival, but it was over. New children followed us, and Igor started to chant with them. Mali is the country of music.
Eingestellt von Eva Ursprung um 14:05