Sunday, April 10, 2011

How's your mother, your brother, your...?

The only way to reach Dogon Country is through Mopti, a city nearly two hours away by car.  The road leading to Dogon is like most African roads, paved in some areas and dirt in others.  Besides the occasional pothole which can swallow a semi-truck whole, there are also animal road blocks to watch out for; (animals such as cows, donkeys, dogs -  and pigs, of course). With all the potential hazards, logically one is tempted to use a seat-belt.  However, doing such is not advised, as you're left with a brown stripe across your chest from the dirt covered belt.  So instead, there we sat, Bremen, our guide Moumo and I, without a seat-belt in an old make-shift taxi cab, as our driver drove us to Dogon Country... at a speed of 120mph (193kph).

The Dogon Tribesmen are kind hearted, hard working, and very sociable people.  It is customary to greet friends by asking them how they're doing, how their parents are doing, how their spouse is doing, how their children are doing, how their siblings are doing, how their grandparents are doing, how their goat is doing... oh and not to mention how their third cousin twice removed is doing as well.  The customary response to each question is: "fine".

Along our journey, hiking to and through villages, it was easy to tell that Moumo was quite the popular guy as the end of one greeting would interfere with the beginning of another.  There were also the group chants, which included three or more people seated a distance away and would offer the same greeting to Moumo at the same time.

With so many greetings being given at such rapid succession, it's easy to think I would have had plenty of opportunities to capture at least one of them on video.  Sadly my stealth-like video recording abilities haven't been honed quite yet.  Instead I had to request a staged greeting... because genuine or not, I wanted something to remember it by.

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