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Destination: Dogon Country, Mali, West Africa

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The mystical Dogon Country is one of the last outposts of African ancient wisdom in the world it's also the most visited area in Mali. There are roughly 400,000 Dogon people living along the cliffs and plateaus. The various villages differ quite a bit and there are about 20 different Dogon languages spoken here.

After my visit in Niogono, I arrived in the Dogon village of Sangha. Upon my arrival, I learned the traditional way that people greet each time pass they pass one another. The eldest begins the greeting.

Aga po - hello
Séo - how are you?
Séo - very well thanks
Oumana séo - how's the family?
Séo - very well thanks
Ounou séo - how are the children?
Séo - very well thanks
Yahana go séo - how's the wife?
Séo - very well thanks

I love the Dogon greeting which really forces you to engage one another.

As I was guided around the village I became familiar with Dogon culture and learned about the sacred objects, places and taboos that exist all around. The Dogon people are animists and they perform various rituals that are linked to their mystical beliefs.

As I trekked along, I saw a dead chicken that had been sacrificed. There were a series of large rocks formed in a circle and the chicken had been placed on a mud mound with a big stone placed on it's back as it was sprawled out for passerbyers to witness. I later learned that a family man sacrificed that chicken because someone in the village stole something from his home and he wanted to get it back. By sacrificing that chicken, harm is supposed to come upon the thief and the man should eventually get his belongings back. How crazy, but cool!

Further along my journey, I saw an interesting table drawn in the sand. As I got closer I was informed that it was a divination table created by a Diviner or Dogon priest. This table is used to tell future events, and the way that it works is incredible.

The Diviner places tiny sticks and stones in the sand panels which represent God, people, harvest, life, love, and whatever else is on the mind of the asker. Every evening, the Diviner chants to invoke the sacred fox to come give his prophecy by leaving his footprints on the sand. The chant goes something like this:

"Fox, tell me please is there something?
Will there be shame next year?
Fox, speak clearly.
Let the people coming to the field stand eye to eye.
Throw your traces.
Give me your nails to mark the sand.
Be clear. Whatever you see, tell me.
Give me your footprints.

The next morning, the Diviner interprets the traces of the fox to reveal the answer to the question asked.

The village people typical want to know the future of family, the village, regional peace and harmony, life and death, and the wishes of God.

Later on I hiked to a few other Dogon villages to further immerse myself in Dogon culture.

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