ESL Eco Blog

This time, we have it !

Daniel Robert in Mali and we here in Montreux have had the same concern for a few days now : where has the container, which we had filled with such enthusiasm a few weeks ago, gone ? Where is it located ? Will it be out of harm’s way (theft, damage) ?

We let out a HUGE SIGH of relief yesterday morning, after reading the message forwarded by Daniel Robert :

—– Forwarded message —-

De : Hamidou WANE <>

À :

Cc : Brigitte CISSE <>

Envoyé le : Mon 31 May 2010, 13h 12min 54s

Objet : TR: Tr : Tr : And our container ?????


Dear Sir,

We acknowledge receipt of your email and wish to inform you that the delay caused in the processing of this case is due to the fact that the shipping company had a manifest problem at their level. As the problem has been solved, we have just finished with the customs formalities and will carry out the dispatch of this container this Wednesday.

We will keep you informed.


Yours sincerely.


SNTT Sénégal, Agent of PANALPINA



And so, it is tomorrow, Wednesday 02/06, that the container will take the train in the direction of Bamako.

Daniel Robert didn’t waste his time in waiting for this reassuring news. He tells us about his journey to the Dogon Country, from where he sends us this interesting report :

There is a name attached to the Dogon Country, that of Marcel Griaule, born in 1898, an eminent French ethnologist known for his studies on this society. He developed an approach consisting in understanding the coherence of a culture by studying its myths, rites and cosmogony. Besides, for his doctoral thesis, he took particular care in describing the Dogon games and Dogon masks.


It is said that Marcel Griaule gave water to the Dogons by constructing a water dam in the Sangha region between 1942 and 1944.The cement was then lifted on men’s backs from Bandiagara, as the road did not exist yet. The carriers travelled a certain distance with the sack, then passed it to a comrade. And so on. When one sees the Dogon Country and its villages on the rock, water has been an immense gift ! In Malian tradition, water is always given to a stranger.

The lake is very deep but narrow and its forms an artificial lake with several branches. And on all sides, there are fields of onions which Griaule taught them to cultivate. One used to prepare – and one still prepares –squares of around 60cm in length surrounded by small stones on the stone. One collected a bit of earth after the rains to fill in these squares. Then, small onions were planted which were watered every day. The cultivation worked so well that they export today. This dam, still in operation, carries his name today.


Marcel Griaule had numerous meetings with an old Dogon hunter, Ogotemmêli, in 1946. Telling a Toubab about all the Dogon cosmogony was a grand gesture of recognition. Marcel Griaule tells about it in Dieu d’eau. To be read…


Upon his death in 1956, Marcel Griaule was one of the rare ethnographers to benefit from a traditional African funeral. The Dogons made a mannequin in the dimensions of the great ethnologist friend, then hoisted it wrapped in the check burial blanket and placed this “Marcel Griaule” in a grott. The ceremony was grand and Jean Rouch filmed it in its entirety. Since then, France has had the mannequin withdrawn, probably in fear of it being stolen and returned for a ransom.

Grotte Griaule_Mali

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