Posted in Art & Culture, MALI, Mopti, Travel

Dogon Country [2]

It is one of Africa’s most interesting regions. Dogon people have old and rich cultural heritage: masks, dances, carving and pueblo-like dwellings. Escarpment where Dogon live is 150 km long. Villages to visit are both on the upper and lower level. Between levels there is limited number of country roads (at Dourou at Kani-Kombole) and paths. There are no signs on the paths so sometimes it is not easy to find the way

Mosque at Kanikombole

Minaret of mosque made from mud

The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. They number just under 800,000. The Dogon are best known for their mythology, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali’s major tourist attractions.

A inside view of another mosque at Kanikombole

Another amazing  mosque constructed using mud at Kanikombole

The principal Dogon area is bisected by the Bandiagara Escarpment, a sandstone cliff of up to 500m high, stretching for about 150 km. To the southeast of the cliff, the sandy Séno-Gondo Plains are found, and northwest of the cliff are the Bandiagara Highlands. The current population is at least 450,000.

During dry season you only can see stalks of millet

Those days Dogon people built house on the cliff

Dogon insecurity in the face of historical pressures caused them to locate their villages in defensible positions along the walls of the escarpment. The other factor influencing their choice of settlement location is water. The river is nearby and in the sandstone rock, a rivulet runs at the foot of the cliff at the lowest point of the area during the wet season.

Courtyard of one of the guesthouse in Dogon Country

Millet stored in toguna

Plant in calabash pot at Dogon’s house

The majority of Dogon practice an animist religion, including the ancestral spirit Nommo, with its festivals and Sirian mythology. A significant minority of the Dogon practice Islam, and some have been converted by missionaries to Christianity. The Dogon record their ancestry through a patrilineal system. Each Dogon community, or enlarged family, is headed by one male elder. This chief head is the oldest living son of the ancestor of the local branch of the family

Our host entertained us with millet’s milk

Dogon Village and the escarpment

Mud brick

The Dogon are well-known for their masks which are used in various ceremonies and rituals. The masks are known as inima, and are believed to contain the life force, nyama. There are over 75 different kinds of masks used for ceremonies. Their woodwork is astounding and is recognised by the ‘primitive’ look which has disappeared from much African art. The Dogon use mainly red, black, and white colours, in addition to many varieties of brown developed from the reddish sand-like dirt which covers much of the land.

The roof of place where we were served with lunch

Calabash turned to kitchen utensils and handicrafts

One of Dogon’s traditional game

Smiling Dogon girl with her handicrafts

Dogon’s wooden door

The Dogon maintain an agricultural mode of subsistence, and cultivate pearl millet, sorghum and rice, as well as onions, tobacco, peanuts, and some other vegetables. They also raise sheep, goats and chickens. Grain is stored in granaries.

Colourful Saturday’s evening market

Last shot at Dogon Country before our next  journey to Bankass

Picture of a mosque before we reach Bankass

At Bankass, people gathered to welcome of their President’s visit.  Bankass is the last place to stop before crossing border to Burkina Faso


Posted in Art & Culture, MALI, Mopti, Travel

Dogon Country [1]

Dogon County is the most visited region of Mali. It’s a 250 km long escarpment near the border with Burkina Faso which has been home to the Dogon people since the 13th century. The Dogon speak their own language (and many dialects) and are primarily animist. The entire region is a UNESCO listed heritage site and it is popular to undertake a trek along the bottom of the cliff, walking the few kilometres between villages in the early morning and late afternoon (it’s too hot midday) and staying on the rooftops of village huts at night, and gazing at the moon and stars

Among the tribes of Africa the Dogon are almost unique in that they have preserved and continued to develop their own culture in the midst of invasions, most of which have conquered and altered many of the other cultural groups throughout the continent. As such they remain closest to their ancestral traditions.

We turned off the main road onto a mixture of dusty laterite tracks and smooth roads supported by stone walls with many dipped paved sections, making secure areas to fort running water, when the surrounding land gets flooded in the rainy season

We start our journey from Sévaré to Bandiagara.  Bandiagara is the entrance Dogon country. The geography itself authorises the comparison, the Dogon country occupies a plateau that rises from the chaotic ment Lowlands Macina Sangha up, to break in a peak that dominates several hundred meters of the plain country voltaics This is the famous cliff of Bandiagara.

After Bandiagara, climbing up and down of the escarpment, we stop at Djiguibombo

Villages were mosaics of family houses “Ginna”. Each building clings to any flat, stuck to the cliff, where it has found a natural canopy.

The architecture of houses, granaries millet (round or square), the “toguna” in the thick pile or roof of millet stalks, as well as caves Tellems used today as places of burial, dogon dance, the crowd of markets that are repeated shifted one village to another every five days, composed of images, unforgettable satisfy any lover of the picturesque.

The myth, the comogonie the symbolic thought then create a universe that is woven and is passed on through generations to speak of divine origin.

A visit

– The Dogon universe is a curiosity in the world that must be discovered, to live.

– The Bandiagara “big dish” is the administrative capital and the hyphen between the plain and cliffs;

– Caves Historic Site or déguimbéré EL Hadji Oumar disappeared in 1864, now place of pilgrimage for the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood Tidjani;

– Songo: famous for its rock paintings;

– Sangha: With thirteen villages, is the starting point for all tours in Dogon country; It Sangha that the cliff is most astonishing;

– You can visit beautiful villages such as Banani and 4 quarters, Ireli, Tireli where wrens are most impressive.

– Bankass: gateway to the villages of the cliff-like kani Kombole, Ende, etc.

What a relief with such greenery and a stream in the middle of dryness.  Farmers plants at this valley with onions and other vegetables.  At Anakanda before we climb another escarpment

Bush Taxis, buses and rental cars available every day from Bamako or Mopti.
Routes and distances:

Bamako – Mopti : 640 km

Bamako – Bandiagara : 691 km
Mopti – Sévaré : 12km

Sévaré – Bandiagara : 55 km

Mopti – Bandiagara – Sangha : 120 km
Mopti – Sévaré – Somadougou – Bankass : 121 km



Posted in MALI, Mopti, Travel


mopti-1Mopti’s climate is considered sahara.  This is the common view in Mopti

Mopti is the fourth administrative region of Mali, covering area of 79,017 km². Its capital is the city of Mopti. Mopti Region is bordered by Tomboctou Region to the north, Ségou Region to the southwest, and Burkina Faso to the southeast.  The population is 1,735,340 people, including Bozos, Songhai, Dogon, Fulani and Bambara.

mopti-2View of traditional village during my journey from San to Mopti 

The Niger River crosses the region, and is joined by the Bani river, its tributary, at the city of Mopti. The region is separated into several areas: the Niger delta around Mopti, the Bandiagara cliffs and the plain of Bankass along the Burkina Faso frontier. Mount Hombori, the highest point in Mali at 1,153 metres, is in the Mopti Region, near the city of the same name.


mopti-3The scene that you normally seen from National Geographic, now infront of you

In terms of its climate, Mopti Region is considered part of the Sahel. The largest cities of the region are Mopti, Sévaré, Djenné, Bandiagara, Bankass and Youvarou. The region is well-irrigated and its agriculture is well-developed, with particularly of rice and fishing. Mopti serves as an important commercial crossroads between Mali’s north, south and bordering nations. Tourism is also well-developed, notably in the cities of Djenné and Mopti (the former of which boasts the Great Mosque of Djenné, the largest mud structure in the world) and in Dogon Country (Pays Dogon). 

mopti-4Mopti is popular with tourists, having an active river port 

Mopti is a city in the Mopti Region in Mali, north east of the capital Bamako. Mopti is the fourth-largest city in Mali, with an estimated 110,000 residents, primarily of the Bambara, Bozo, Dogon, Songhai and Fula ethnic groups.

mopti-5Mopti is an interesting place. There is an active port, a mosque built from mud, and across the Niger River is small fishing villages

Like Mali’s capital city, Bamako, which was positioned on a key point of the West African railroad system, the growth of Mopti is closely linked to the expansion of the French colonial administration. When French forces reached Mopti at the end of the nineteenth century, they noted its potential as a strategic port. They soon built up the town infrastructure as a base for expansion to the north. By 1914, Mopti replaced Djenné as the regional administrative center of the colonial government. The French in turn put great effort into developing an urban infrastructure, including construction of the dykes and small causeways linking the islands to the mainland.

mopti-6Mopti is sometimes known as the “Venice of Mali”

Mopti city is build on three islands connected by dykes; the New Town, the Old Town and Bani, situated at the confluence of the Bani and Niger river. As a result it is sometimes known as the “Venice of Mali”. From here, the Niger starts to develop a large inner delta with lagoons, little islands and canals. Besides, Mopti is the intersection of trade routes to Timbuktu, Djenné, Gao and the Dogon Country. Much of the commerce involves the river and so Mopti is an important port for cargo and passengers. And it is an interesting market town where the various tribes go to trade for fish, salt, living animals, fruit, vegetables and crafts. Mopti is a pleasant, very lively and, above all, a very exciting place!

mopti-7Congregation  of  Moptian to welcomes the visit by the President of the Republic, ATT

The city of Mopti derives its name from the Fulfulde word for gathering. The islands had long been inhabited, but Mopti was only founded in the nineteenth century as part of the Massina Empire, later becoming the base of El Hadj Umar Tall. With French domination, Mopti became known for its egret feather industry.

Mopti is popular with tourists, having an active river port, a mosque, and across the Niger, small fishing villages. Attractions in Mopti include Mopti Grand Mosque and the nearby Dogon Country (Pays Dogon).

mopti-8The Komoguel neighbourhood where the mosque and the community together in the narrow streets that intersect regularly at right angles

Places of interest


1) Thursday market with the famous woolen blankets with geometric, bronze bracelets, stones, necklaces and even flintlock pistols to finely embroidered revolver, the famous gold leaves earrings of Fulani women

2) Komoguel Mosque: Built in 1935, the after the famous Mosque of Djenné, and present the same architectural aspects as the latter;

3) The market place of such: The visitors will find the famous blankets (Kassa) for various motif, the bracelets of bronze, the famous earrings with gold leaf or bronze, this market remains the largest of Mali; 

mopti-9Another landmark of Mopti.  The water tower in the middle of Mopti city

4) The river port: the place of all meetings and all trade, the port is the hub of the city or just the big and heavy pinasses ever tie the Market ‘Sougouniba’: Everyday food market, rich in color

5) Visit also the villages of fishermen and farmers accessible by boat on the left bank of the river Bani;

6) Boat (pirogue) making place next to the restaurant Bozo 

mopti-10View of Grand Mosque of Mopti also known as Mosque of Komoguel at the background.  View from the road just before you reach Mopti city from Sévaré

7) Making of clay pots in the area near the mosque;
8] Lake Debo – true inland sea during high water season.

grande-mosquee-de-mopti-1Front view of the Grand Mosque of MoptiThe French Resident Administrator of the Mopti region, M. Cocheteaux directed the construction of the Great Mosque in 1935. This new mosque was built on the site of a previous one dating from 1908. He is credited with its design as well, basing his efforts on the Great Mosque of Djenné, which had been reconstructed about thirty years earlier. Imitating this “Sudanese” style was a priority for Cocheteaux, but his design is significantly more vertical and symmetrical than Djenné and other regional mosques. The Resident Administrator was also keenly aware of the tourist experience of approaching and viewing the Mosque. 

grande-mosquee-de-mopti-2La Grande Mosquée de Mopti underwent major rehabilitation in 2004-2006 under sponsorship of Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)

Cocheteaux even built two nearly identical facades with this in mind, maintaining the mosque’s orientation towards Mecca and its position in the urban environment while creating dramatic views from the city and the river.

grande-mosquee-de-mopti-3Various shots of Mosque of Komoguel

The Great Mosque was listed by the Malian Government as a National Monument in 2005 and restored between 2004 and 2006 under the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The National Cultural Heritage Department of Mali’s Ministry of Culture, regional authorities, the city of Mopti and the Mosque’s committee directed these efforts. Local master of masons and their apprentices executed the restoration work.  

grande-mosquee-de-mopti-4Mopti’s mosque is an outstanding example of the traditional Muslim architecture of the Sahel. The mosque is commonly called the Mosque of Komoguel 

mopti-sevare-11Arch at the Sevaré Bus Terminal

Although some buses continue as far as (and originate in) Mopti, Sévaré is now the main transport hub for the region. Bâchés (US$0.40) and Peugeot 504 taxis (US$0.50) cover the 12km between Mopti and Sévaré between 7am and 8pm daily.

To Timbuktu (US$27, 12 hours on a good day), 4WDs leave most days from behind the bâché gare. It’s a hard journey.

mopti-sevare-12Map of Mopti and its surrounding area 

There are two airlines companies, CAM and MAE that provides at least two flights a week to Timbuktu (US$78) and Bamako (US$104). CAM also has one flight per week to Gao (US$153, via Timbuktu). A private taxi from Mopti to the airport in Sévaré costs at least US$10.80.


Posted in Art & Culture, Current Affair, Islam, MALI, Mopti

President Toure and Prince Aga Khan in Mopti : THE GREAT MOSQUE REGAIN ITS MAGNIFICIENT

Prince Aga Khan IV

The Great Mosque Mopti, whoich has been restored has been listed as National Heritage in 2005.

Yesterday 24th April 2008, Aga Khan IV was in Mali to visit two Great National Heritage Mosques.  Prince Aga Khan visited Grand Mosque in Mopti and later to Dyingery Ber Mosque in Timbuktu.  Both great mosques are part of National Heritage as declared by UNESCO in 2005.

Prince Aga Khan IV

Grand Mosque Mopti

The Great Mosque Mopti, was built between 1936 and 1943 on the site of an earlier mosque dating from 1908.  The mosque was restored and funded by Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) began its restoration in 2004.  The work lasted two years.  The restoration of the Great Mosque was made using traditional techniques of using mud.

These activities are part of the overall framework of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan Agency for microfinance in Mali.