ESL Eco Blog

In the Dogon country, the Tellem people

Although he has come home in the meantime from his journey to Mali, Daniel Robert has reserved another revelation about a fascinating people, the Dogons, for us.


The Dogons arrived from Mandé, west of Bamako, fleeing Islamism. They settled on the cliff, at the foot of this or in the plain. In the cliff, in order to protect themselves, the Tellem people (« those who were before us », according to the expression of the Dogons). These made cords with baobab bark which helped them for climbing. Of a small size, they are often mistakenly associated with pygmies. They lived off fishing, crop picking, hoe-farming, breeding and bow hunting.



The dwellings of the Tellem people in the cliff are extraordinary, to be seen, and some have been reconditioned by UNESCO. They are no longer inhabited, but are used as cemeteries. One or two inhabitants of the village climb with their bare hands until reaching a grotto, throw a thin cord to which a more solid cord is going to be attached.  On the ground, the deceased has been wrapped in the burial blanket, a check blanket. Then it is lifted, installed in a dwelling having removed the blanket from it, which is then thrown on the ground. The opening of the hut is closed with some stones. The ceremony has finished and the climbers can go back down again. Jean Rouch, a French film director, has also filmed this scene.

To be continued… ! whilst waiting to see Daniel Robert again in our region and to witness his captivating tales live.

And let’s not forget our container which is continuing its journey towards Bamako. Check out the follow-up in the next instalment!

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