Benimatou, Dogon Country, Mali

22 Nov

Village of Benimatou, Dogon Country, Mali © Erin Lau, 2011

The final village that we stayed in on our 4 day Dogon Country trek was the village of Benimatou. Benimatou is spectacular for a few reasons, many of which I wasn’t able to capture during our short stay there. For one, it differed from most Dogon villages in that it contained not only Muslims, but Christians and Animists as well. Most of the other villages we saw were entirely Muslim, having converted to Islam in the past couple centuries. Benimatou had all three religions. Another reason Benimatou is amazing, is its location on top of the escarpment, looking over onto the immense vista of a never-ending valley floor. In addition, there were giant red rock formations jutting up in every direction, reminding me of the American Southwest. On the night we stayed there, we were lucky to witness some sort of Christian ceremony. It happened to take place directly behind our campement where their church was located. There was drumming and singing from far away, and it came closer and closer. Soon we saw a procession of people heading toward the church. The only problem was that there were about six camping tents blocking the entrance- tents belonging to Dutch tourists. But it was barely a hindrance as they simply picked up the tents and placed them aside. They all packed into their small mud church and we could hear muffled music, and what was probably a sermon. Afterward they reemerged and began dancing in a circle, a type of line dance, musicians on the sides. The music and singing was captivating, and while others in our group tried to sleep, I attempted  to record it with my phone. The next morning I asked our guide what happened last night, and he said – “Oh they’re just practicing some Christmas songs for the upcoming holiday”. Wow, I thought. I want those to be our Christmas songs!

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