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Sahara

Day 45: Tirelli

Tirelli, Mali 
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A carved door on a granary records the Dogon version of how the world began.
Michael Palin - SaharaHe introduces me to the headman of the village, Dogolu Say, a tall, impressive, serious man, in a pointed hat and an indigo robe. (This he casts aside in the heat of the day to reveal a Copacabana Beach T-shirt.) He, in turn, takes me first to see the forgeron, the blacksmith, a formidably powerful man in the Dogon world, taught by God (who they call Ama) how to bring fire up from the earth.

Progress round the village is slow, partly because of the heat and partly because of the endless greetings. African greeting is fulsome at the best of times, but a Dogon 'Good Morning' can last several minutes. Dogolu cannot pass anyone without initiating a ritual of questions and responses, delivered in sing-song rhythm and designed to ascertain the health of not just wife, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, in-laws and anyone else you might have met in your life, but also house, onion patch, rice supplies, bicycle, dog, donkey and so on. Try it, with rhythm.

aga po (How are you?)

sèwa (Fine)

oumana sèwa (How's the family?)

sèwa (Fine)

ounou sèwa (How are the kids?)

sèwa (Fine)

yahana go sèwa (How's the wife?)

sèwa (Fine)

deh sèwa (How's your father?)

sèwa (Fine)

nah sèwa (How's your mother?)

sèwa (Fine)
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 45
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Tirelli
  • Book page no: 141

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