ML 148472


Interview :08 - 36:19 Play :08 - More
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Issa Mohammed  






Timbuktu Heritage Institute  

Interview 1:00:48 - 1:44:56 Play 1:00:48 - More
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Hogon Samba  






Dogon culture and beliefs; translated by Roberto Cerea  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
28 Jan 2003

  • Mali
  • near Bandiagara; village of Goumo
  • 14.35   -3.616667
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
  • Sennheiser MKH 50
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS Stereo

Show: Mali
Log of DAT #:19A
Engineer: Leo
Date: January 28, 2003

S = Hogon Samba
IM = Issa Mohammed
R = Roberto Cerea
WD = Wade Davis
CR = Chris Rainier
AC = Alex Chadwick
CJ = Carolyn Jensen
Leo = Leo del Aguila

0:24 AC-Issa, you were working¿what job did you have when you first came back to Mali to kind of try to decide on something new? What were you doing in the United States then?

0:38 IM-Um, that time I created my own corporation.

0:43 AC-That was Amtech

0:44 IM-That is Amtech Africa. Yes, American Technologies for Africa, um-hm.

0:55 AC-And how long had you been running that firm when you came back?

0:59 IM-Um, I had been running Amtech Africa since 1998. And this is, um, and import-export management corporation. As well as a consulting corporation.

1:19 AC-And before that you had worked for Cingular One and for another company, I've forgotten¿

1:27 IM-Yeah, before that I worked, uh, I worked for Cellular One. And that's in, uh, San Francisco. Uh, back in 1988, 87-88. Um, and I had the privilege to be part of a team that promoted cellular phones for the first time in the Bay area.

1:53 AC-And, um, and you worked for them about, and you created Amtech Africa in 1998?

2:03 IM-Yes.

2:04 AC-And then when was it that you, you told your wife at one point, 'I'm not happy doing this, I want to go back to Mali and look around'. When, when, was that 2000?

2:16 IM-Yeah, this is, uh, back in 2000. I looked around and, um, by the way, Alex I'm very happy of your opportunity to be a Tuareg that had the chance to educate himself in America. So, I am largely grateful to America, I have to be this way. I met with very beautiful, interesting people who have made things, uh, very easy for me, um-hm. However, at a certain point I really asked myself what's meaningful for me in life? And this is where my whole cultural heritage started surfacing and this is where I spoke to my wife and I said that, um, I feel that I need to do something. I need to somehow, something that will connect my experience in America with the needs of the people back in Africa, back in Mali.

3:43 AC-Did you know about all the manuscripts in Timbuktu, then?

3:47 IM-Uh, actually, I had an idea about the legacy of Timbuktu because before going to the United States I worked, my profession was I was teaching history and geography so I had that knowledge of Timbuktu, uh, but I did not realize the complexity and the amount of volumes of manuscripts in Timbuktu. It was in 1999 when I went to Timbuktu on a pilgrimage that I stumbled upon this entire legacy.

4:29 AC-How did you find it?

4:31 IM-Well, that's really the, um, the most, uh, interesting and amazing part. As I said I went to Timbuktu on a pilgrimage in 1991, I mean 99, so the minute I walked in to Djingareyber, this is the biggest masjid, the biggest mosque, and it also used to be part of the university of Timbuktu¿

4:57 AC-So it's the mosque, the biggest Islamic mosque in Timbuktu?

4:58 IM-Exactly, in Timbuktu, Djingareyber. So, I was there and suddenly the Imam, or the religious leader of the masjid, of Drahamana Siuti walked toward me and said that, 'we know that, um, God is going to send us some help'. And suddenly he started showing me the manuscripts, the Circle sites. And Djingareyber is one of the, um, world heritage sites, which has been classified by Unisco as a cultural heritage site. So this is how we went around the city and he started presenting the other, um, private libraries, and then we went to Ahmed Baba Center, that you have seen.

6:02 AC-This is the learning center and library in Timbuktu, Ahmed Baba?

6:07 IM-That is correct.

6:12 AC-That must've been a¿that must've been a powerful moment for you, when the Imam said, 'We know that God is going to send us some help', and here you are. I mean, did you feel that you were equal to what he was implying?

6:33 IM-Um, well I, uh, first of all I was very, I was perplexed. I said why did he, why me? And especially when I was dressed like anyone else. I had my Tuareg outfit and things.

6:52 AC-You were wearing traditional clothing? Robes, turbans?

6:53 IM-(speaking over Alex) Traditional clothing, robes, and turbans and so forth. And you know, in that crowd he just walked straight to me.

7:03 AC-Did he know who you were?

7:05 IM-No. We did not know each other before then.

7:13 AC-Well, what did you think?

7:16 IM-Well, I, um, I just said maybe this is, um, this is my mission. This is what's going to connect my experience, you know, the experience that I acquired in America, with Mali, with these cultures that are, um, on the verge of disappearing, as you have seen. Something needs to be done about these cultures. Um¿

7:46 AC-It's a great, great honor to be asked to do something like that, but once you started going around the city, seeing all these private libraries, seeing the condition they are in, it's a huge task. Many of them are in pretty poor condition and they're getting worse. So what do you, what do you do to take that on?

8:21 IM-Well, this is a, uh, this is where my, um, my experience, my know-how, my, um, everything I have learned in America. In other words this has created the opportunity for me to apply my knowledge, and by being educated in America I came to know men and women who have met challenges greater than 700,000 volumes and they have found a way to do it, so this is really the credit I'm giving to America by allowing me to realize that one the 700,000, that's a huge task as you said, Alex, but at the same time, one of the things I learned in management is that, uh, there is always a way out when we really have the will, the determination, the knowledge, there is always a way out.

9:30 AC-So what is your plan? How are you going about saving these manuscripts and saving, really, the cultural heritage of Timbuktu?

9:43 IM-Well, first of all, what, um, what I did is I created the Timbuktu Heritage Institute, which is a non-profit organization based in California. And then, second, I realized I needed a network of institutions, individuals, non-profit organizations, local structures and networks in Africa, in Timbuktu. And this is what I started establishing since 1999. So, so far, and also I got the help of a good friend who is presently the vice president of the Timbuktu Heritage Institute, and that is Larry Child. Uh, he's heading our office in Boston. And Larry Child spent a lot of time in West Africa, particularly in Mali, and Burkina Faso, establishing NGO's, local organizations, to help grass-roots initiatives in Mali. So, that was a great help, to find a counterpart, to find, um, a friend, to find a brother, to find an ally, who is an American, by the way, and who has been tackling this problem of development in Africa. So when I called him he said, 'Yes, Issa, you know, I have been searching all this time that I have been in Africa for something that can trigger the grass-roots economic development in Mali and by talking to you I now realize that it is the cultural heritage of Mali. So¿

11:47 AC-Hold on for a second. We're gonna get, uh¿Where's uh Godfrey? Uh, Godfrey? (Everyone looks for Godfrey and talks about the goats).

12:42 AC-Uh, so, uh, we haven't even really talked about¿What are these manuscripts? What's in these manuscripts?

12:58 IM-That's a very beautiful question. The manuscripts of Timbuktu are a legacy of writings of African scholars. Back in the 9, 10, 11 century to the 19th century. And the manuscripts and the books of Timbuktu cover subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, Islamic sciences, um, and the most important thing is the manuscripts cover treaties.

13:41 AC-Treaties?

13:41 IM-Yes treaties. On peace, good governance, conflict resolutions, cultural diversity, how to live together, although we are different. And how to take that difference and make it something great that we can all benefit from. So, by preserving the manuscripts of Timbuktu we are also preserving a message of peace, a message of love, and a message of how to live together. And this is also one of the, um, aspects of the project that we would really like to share. Not only with the Malian authorities, the Malian people, but also with our friends in the U.S., in Europe, and around the world.

14:39 AC-Do you think people are aware that Africa has a heritage of great libraries and science reaching back to the 9th centuries?

14:52 IM-Uh, I will say the, um, the academic intelligentsia, and people who have traveled, in Mali, and right now we do have a lot of American friends and allies who travel extensively in Mali. And as these people come in contact with these cultures, they take back with them that there are great cultures in Africa, in Mali, that are as equally important as any culture we can have in the West, in Asia, or anywhere, or anywhere in the world. So, yes, I would say, yes, definitely there is a certain knowledge out there about this legacy of Mali, of Timbuktu, about the university of Timbuktu. Umm, and we have also some professors from the U.S. from Norway, from Europe, who have been involved with this legacy. And according to them, the manuscripts of Timbuktu, with the manuscripts of Timbuktu, that today the historians are in a position to rewrite the history of Africa, as opposed to the notion that Africa has no history, Africa has no written record. So the discovery of the manuscripts of Timbuktu is really sending a message contrary to the prevailing and existing message, that today in Timbuktu we are in possession of manuscripts and books that testify that Africa does have a history and Africa does have written records, which are the hallmark of, uh, of civilization.

16:58 AC-What is your goal, what is your hope for this project?

17:02 IM-Well, first of all, the goals um, we have three goals. One is really to try to preserve these manuscripts, as well as the related Circle sites. The manuscripts are decaying. We have, uh, you know, for the following reason we have the termites, we have, you know, the climates, we also have, you know, poor conditions, and the most alarming threat to these manuscripts is their illegal trafficking. So the manuscripts are being sold to tourists to professors for subsistence money. And these are manuscripts that contain very valuable information. And we have seen cases where the manuscripts of Timbuktu were used to raise thousands, if not millions of dollars in the U.S. to benefit, um, to benefit Western universities, as opposed to the descendants and the people of Timbuktu. So, to go back to the goal, we do have one of our mission goal to preserve these manuscripts, as well as the sacred site, and second to promote the message of peace, tolerance, good governance, conflict resolution, and cultural diversity, which is contained in these manuscripts. And second, to apply the, the knowledge that is contained in these manuscripts to the modern day development schemes in Africa. And we have seen that great efforts have been made in Africa in developing Africa. But, there have been successes, however, uh, the process of developing Africa could have gone faster if we have reconnected Africans with their cultures, with their past. And draw from these cultures vital energies to be combined with IT information so that Africa can be compelled on its own path, on its own development path.

19:32 AC-When you talk about the¿taking these manuscripts and actually using them for benefiting Western, are you talking about the guy from the University of Illinois?

19:44 IM-Well there is the professor of the University of Illinois. There are also some professors from, uh¿

19:51 AC-Professor Stewart?

19:52 IM-No, not professor Stewart. That is professor John Hanwick.

19:59 AC-From the University of Illinois?

20:01 IM-Exactly, and um¿

20:03 AC-What did he do?

20:04 IM-Well, he used the manuscripts of Timbuktu. He has written a proposal about the manuscripts of Timbuktu and raised some money from those manuscripts, and opened an institute of African Islamic thought in, uh, Northwestern Illinois, uh. He did help a little bit with the Ahmed Baba Center and, um, Mamahidira(?) Library. Uh, but the benefits he accrued from this manuscript is really far greater than what he has given, you know, back, you know, to the community (coughing). And, uh,

21:07 IM-Um-hm. I would say the benefits that he and his institute have gained from the manuscripts of Timbuktu, or his association with the manuscripts of Timbuktu is far great than what the people of Timbuktu have received. I give you an example. Professor John Hanwick has written two proposals. One proposal for the Ford Foundation in Lagosa, Nigeria, uh, which resulted in a grant of I believe 150,000 or 100,000, so that grant was given back to Ahmed Baba Center. Uh, however, he also used the same manuscript to get a loan from Ford Foundation in the U.S. and I believe that that's a not, if it's not a million then it's very close to one-million dollars.

22:39 IM-¿Names, you know, it's just giving some general information. And, that, you know, we are happy that, you know, these professors are actually interested. And in fact, you know, this is even what he said himself. He did say some very good things about, you know, this legacy. So, I would like to give him credit for finding, you know, these are good manuscript, and that, you know, these manuscripts, you know, have a scholarly value, they have a diplomatic value, and economic value. So I just don't want to put on air something that's¿

23:17 AC-No, we're not going to.

23:18 IM-Something that's negative.

23:31 AC-So, your long-range goal for the project, if you could just sum that up. I'm sorry.

23:37 IM-Well, my long-range goal for this project is to rehabilitate the legacy of Timbuktu, uh, reopen the University of Timbuktu, so that it become, it becomes a research center for all the students around the world, and not only resurrect the University of Timbuktu, but also resurrect its original methods of teachings; which is really very important in today's schemes of development in Africa, and particularly in Mali. And one aspect that I really appreciate about the traditional methods of Timbuktu, the University of Timbuktu, is that before the students graduate, the university made sure the student has mastered some sort of trade so that right from the get-go the students becomes independent and knows how to provide for himself or for herself. And back in the 12th century, for instance, they had these, uh, trade workshops where you go if you are making shoes, you want to learn navigation on the river or in the desert or, um, business, for instance, you were taken in by, for instance, one of the business men, and then you become, um, an intern, an intern. So, as you are going through the university, you also have the chance to apply what you are learning. And this is something that we have lost in our nowadays education system, where a student in Mali will be going from the first grade until they graduate from the university they haven't learned anything and they have a diploma and suddenly they become an expert, an expert without a practice, and this is the tragedy that Africa is facing.

26:10 AC-Are you going to, you, you hold American citizenship, are you going to, is Mali calling so powerfully that you will now come back here, relocate in Timbuktu, and leave your home in California? Or will you try to live in both worlds?

26:29 IM-Well, I, I belong to both worlds. Part of me is Malian, part of me is Tuareg, part of me is African, and part of me is also American. So I do not believe that, uh, my wanting to help Mali will necessarily give up my citizenship, or I have to choose either Mali or the U.S., especially at a time where the world is becoming a global village where you can have your Starbuck coffee in San Francisco and have your dinner in Bamako. So, um, I my position, I hope that my position reflects my own thoughts that, uh, Africa does have great cultures, but America also does have great cultures, and great initiatives. So if these two are combined, then that whole humanity will benefit from that meeting of cultures, from that marriage of cultures and I hope this is what my initiatives reflect.

27:49 AC-Many of these manuscripts in fact, perhaps, almost all of these manuscripts are written in Arabic, correct?

27:58 IM-Yes.

28:01 AC-Because there's a, there's an Islamic base to most of the manuscripts, yes?

28:07 IM-Correct.

28:09 AC-At a time when, uh, Islam is, uh, Islam is really being questioned in the West, perhaps you feel a special significance to, to what you're doing, and to the importance of these manuscripts.

28:26 IM-Yes, um, as you said, Alex, especially nowadays the way Islam has been viewed. I would like to say one thing and as we have all, as we have all traveled together in Mali. Uh, I am sure for yourself you have seen how tolerant the kind of Islam we have in Africa is, um, because as Muslims in Africa we do believe the best way to convey Islam is by your own, um, perfect and good character. And in Africa we have an Islam that is very tolerant, an Islam that makes room for cultural diversity, that honors every citizen, and we also know that even in the Koran there is no compulsion in Islam. So it is something that a human being or a person will willingly come to because they have seen some positive characteristics in it. So this is why we are trying to share with the world the message of peace, of tolerance, conflict resolution, good governance, and cultural diversity that is really contained in these manuscripts in Timbuktu, yes. Uh, we do believe in peace, we do believe in sharing, we do believe in love, and we do believe in creating partners. You see we don't have to be the same or look like the same or think the same to live together, you see. As long as we can see, um, our comparative advantages, and from there we can work and create a society where we can freely be in Washington D.C., enjoying the beauties of Washington D.C. or in Timbuktu also enjoying the cultures of Timbuktu.

30:57 AC-Thank you Issa.

30:59 CJ-Could you just ask him one quick question? Uh, just to amplify a little bit more on Timbuktu 1000 years ago. Just so we can appreciate what a great center of learning and knowledge it was at that time.

31:15 AC-When these manuscripts were finding their way to Timbuktu, or being created in Timbuktu, what was Timbuktu like a thousand years ago?

31:25 IM-Well, uh, a thousand years ago Timbuktu was, um, a very, um, a very alive, a very jubilant, a very, a city. Timbuktu was a city of knowledge and Timbuktu was a city of trade, of commerce. But the most important thing in Timbuktu was really, its multi-cultural composition because people of different walks came to Timbuktu. We have the Arabs, the Tuaregs, the Amazir, the Berbers, the Fulani, the Songhay, the Mandinkas, all converged to Timbuktu to create a civilization of tolerance, to create of understanding.

32:17 AC-What were they all doing there? Why Timbuktu?

32:20 IM-Well, Timbuktu was also a place of peace, and Timbuktu was a place of knowledge a center of learning, and also a center of trade, as we have seen. We all went to Taoudenni. And we have seen the most important traded commodity in that part of the world, which is the salt from Taoudenni. So, not only we have knowledge that is traded in Timbuktu, but also we do have commodities such as salt and gold, and other products coming from both North Africa, the Mediterranean, um, area, as well Sub-Sahara Africa, or West cultured Anic-Africa(?). So Timbuktu at that time was a very prosperous city. And also, as we have seen, the, uh, the rulers of Timbuktu, the kings, both the Mandinka, and their Kam-Kamusa, the emperor Kam-Kamusa, and the emperor Escrio(?) Mohamed, created a condition where scholars were honored and appreciated for their contribution, for contributing to, uh, peace in the region.

33:51 AC-But tell me, what were the, what are the goods, what's the flow of goods coming from the North and the South? What are the things happening there that create the conditions for a center of learning to come about?

34:02 IM-Yes, uh, uh, we can say that from the North there is a proverb that comes from Timbuktu that says that camels loaded from with goods came from the North, and canoes loaded with goods came from the South, meaning Sudanic Africa. And knowledge resides in Timbuktu. So from there we can see how the caravan will be carrying goods from Northern Africa. This is clothings and all the beautiful things that, uh, the Mediterranean um, business people were manufacturing, plus also the salt that was coming from Taoudenni, they were all traded in Timbuktu so Timbuktu was a hub, it was a port of, uh, before entering the Sahara, and then from the Sudanic Africa we also have gold. So the salt was traded for gold, and also with the caravan we also have books coming from Northern Africa that created a civilization where learning and trade went hand in hand. So that was really the beauty of Timbuktu in the 12th century and this is how in the 12th century Timbuktu, which had the population of 120,000 people, had the population of 25,000 students and 180 Koranic schools in Timbuktu and around Timbuktu.

36:15 AC-Thank you, very much.

47:55-FX. Africans conversing.

48:00-Ambi. Birds chirping, Dogon people talking.

48:35-Leo tells me they are at the Dogon village.

49:59-FX. Sound of a chicken. (Dogon people still talking).

59:44-Alex and Leo talking about setting-up for interview

Dogon Interview:

1:00:48 AC-First of all thank you for your conversation yesterday.



1:01:10 AC-The cave sounds much different today. There's many more insects here¿

1:01:34 AC-I'd like to talk a little bit more about your father if I may. He comes to you in your dreams. Can you tell me about the last time you saw him?


AC-When did you last see your father.


1:02:15 Dogon

1:02:36 R-Some years ago but he doesn't remember exactly when.

1:02:42 AC-So he doesn't come that often to see you?



R-No he doesn't come very often.

1:02:54 AC-How often do you make a sacrifice to him?


1:03:06 Dogon

1:03:32 R-So every year after the harvest when they have collected everything they take some of the millet just the harvest and they offer it to him.

1:03:49 AC-If your father has not been coming to see you in your dreams you must mean your doing a good job because you're being a good Hogon. He's not coming to say "Hey you get this right or else you're in trouble.




1:04:42 AC-You talked earlier yesterday morning about how you went to Bamako and when you came back from Bamako you were not pure anymore. What did you mean by that?


1:05:28 R-No he says just the word pure was just the interpretation from the guy (?) because in fact he didn't say, he didn't employ the idea of purity or to be dirty.


R-Literally what he says is people that are in Bamako, people that are here they are different.

1:05:58 AC-But the, um, my question to him yesterday was did you¿we were talking about do you speak with your ancestors and he said we don't have that secret anymore and then he said I went to Bamako and then I came back and that seemed to be a part of it. So maybe I should make the question more like¿

1:06:28 AC-When you went to Bamako and came back, did that change you as a Dogon? Were you changed as a Dogon when you came back?


1:06:51 Dogon

1:06:53 R-He says that nothing has changed.

1:07:00 AC-What was that minister interpreting yesterday?


1:07:47 R-That, it was a generalize thought about people. They move here they go to Bamako, they stay for a while. So by staying away from here for a long time they can lose some secrets from their culture. But in this case he spent just five years so he came back. That is the reason why that is the interpretation Amadu says by just staying five years so he was able to keep his (?).


1:08:28 AC-Do young men from this village still go away to Bamako?



R-Yes they keep going to Bamako

1:08:45 AC-Are there young men from this village in Bamako or in Ghana now?



1:09:37 R-So the first answer was we go just to Bamako to Severai, to Mopti. I ask about their people now there are people now outside the villages, he says yes there are people that now live outside the village.

1:09:52 AC-If people now live outside the village do they still maintain their connection to the ancestors?


1:10:22 Dogon

1:10:30 R-There isn't any relationship between the people they stay outside and their ancestors.

AC-There's none?


AC-And why is that? You have to be in the village to contact the ancestors?

1:11:04 Dogon

1:13:09 R-He says that people they are outside the village they can't do anything for their ancestors. If they come back they must go through the Hogon, he's the only one who is allowed to make a sacrifice. And also about himself if he moves outside the village, he sees in his body he has to make a sacrifice he has to come back. And now one year that he has never moved from the village.

AC-Is the Hogon the only one in the village who can speak to an ancestor?


1:14:30 Dogon

1:15:09 R-He is the only one who is allowed to make a sacrifice to a fetish, to the ancestors. The rest of the people they are here to help him for there, so for the harvest, so they can replace him solely if he is not here.

AC-But a message to the ancestor has to go through the Hogon, a message from anyone has to go through the Hogon?



R-Yes it has to pass through the Hogon

AC-Okay, tell him I'm sorry I'm such a slow student it is very hard for me to learn.


AC-What kinds of powers do the ancestors have? Yesterday you said you might make a sacrifice when you're hunting to protect you from spirits that you might meet in the bush. Do the ancestors protect you from spirits, do the ancestors interact with the spirits?


1:17:19 Dogon

1:18:18 R-So he says that when he is going for hunting it is necessary he is asking for protection because a snake could come and bite him and in fact when he moves after having done the sacrifice he is protected against the snakes he is also protected against the bad spirits that can drive him crazy.

AC-Where do the bad spirits come from?


1:18:54 Dogon

R-He says nobody knows where they are bad spirits, they are everywhere.

AC-How do the ancestors protect you from the bad spirits?


1:19:24 Dogon

1:20:06 R-The ancestors that protect him through their fetishes because the fetishes are done to protect.

AC-I don't quite understand what a fetish is. Does he mean it's a sacrifice or a gift to the ancestors? What does he mean by a fetish?


1:20:49 Dogon

1:21:42 R-There is not a difference between a sacrifice and a fetish because the sacrifice is made on the fetish.


1:22:28 R-The fetishes protect us against the sorcerers, the diseases, and the bad spirits. And the ancestors they left them to us and ¿


R-The ancestors left the fetishes with all their secrets related to the fetishes and we can't unveil these secrets or make violence to them.

Leo-you mean violate? Can you repeat that again?

1:23:12 R-You can't violate these secrets.

AC-So what would be a fetish? Would it be a skull from a baboon, a piece of wood? What makes something a fetish?


1:23:46 Dogon

1:24:49 R-He says they don't use any bone to make a sacrifice. They make a fetish by carving a wood.

AC-Carving a root?

R-A wood, but not any wood, here they have a special wood. Here they have several woods that are special.


1:25:33 R-He says that here they have several trees and every tree, every wood has it's own importance. You can have a wood to heal disease, you can have a wood to or tree to give somebody the luck, good luck, or you have also wood to provoke diarrhea to somebody so if you want he can't show you that they are very, very effective.

AC-(laughs) So he's going to make somebody sick?


1:26:19 Dogon

1:26:28 R-He says that they are also trees he can use to make somebody a big stomach.

AC-I've already got one of those, can he make me lose weight?


1:27:04 Dogon

1:27:35 R-It's not very useful to lose weight but if you have a big stomach because of a disease he can get a plant from the tree to treat the disease.

1:27:51 AC-Just a question to you is he offering to show us a fetish and how a fetish works? I'm not clear what is a fetish and if that's something, what happens with that.

R-No, what he was talking about was the power and the power of the tree and the plants so that in fact he can show that they are very effective. In fact fetishes are in front of the house.

AC-The wooden masks? Are the masks all fetishes? The small wooden statues? And they all have secrets? Okay.

1:28:38 AC-Let me ask you another question just about your ancestors if I may. You had said that the Dogon used to be able to speak to their ancestors and the ancestors would answer them, that the Hogon could do that, but the Hogon can't do that anymore, was his grandfather able to do that?


1:29:20 Dogon

1:30:35 R-What he says is in the past he knows that they used to talk to their ancestors but he doesn't think that his father was able to talk to the ancestors because he's never heard his grandfather say I'm going to talk to the ancestors, or that is what I learned from my ancestor. The only thing he knows is that this practice is not anymore practiced anymore and the only way is by dreams the ancestors are able to talk to him.

1:31:11 AC-Are there other villages or other Hogons who are still speaking to ancestors?


1:31:39 Dogon

R-He doesn't know

AC-Does he believe that Hogons in the past would speak to the ancestors and they would answer him?


1:32:25 Dogon

1:32:55 R-It is very difficult for him to say that he believes because he can't believe something just because he has heard it.


Carolyn and Alex discuss what to ask next.

1:34:08 AC-Do you think that your father, now that he's an ancestor, is he happier as an ancestor or is he happier as a Hogon?


1:34:45 Dogon

1:35:14 R-He doesn't know anything so he doesn't know if he is more happy or less happy, that is what is happening over there, literally.

1:35:26 AC-The ancestors must get some kinds of powers when they become ancestors because now the ancestors can protect you from spirits, they make the harvest better, they help you when you hunt, those are powers, those are things they do for you, how do they get those powers?


1:36:24 Dogon

1:37:40 R-He says he doesn't know where they get this power. What he knows is God makes different gifts, different talents to everybody. In talking to us the people that are in front of me they have more knowledge, they have more money than me, what is important is everybody gets what he needs with the power, with the community he has.

1:38:10 AC-Does the Hogon have any other message that he'd like to share with my country and our listeners about his ancestors or the life of the Dogon?


1:38:59 Dogon

1:41:34 R-He says he doesn't have a special message, he can sing, he can sing a song to do with hunting, but anyway, the message he's wanting to address is just to say that the harvest this year was very bad and he has many people under his responsibility and he doesn't have millet and he doesn't have food to provide to his village.

AC-What was the other man saying when he broke in?


R-(says they argued about giving a message or singing)

AC-We'll sing later


1:42:46 Dogon

R-Can we invite them tonight also?


They joke around for a bit

1:45:52-1:47:18 Ambi of area surrounding interview.

1:47:36-1:52:04 Ambi. Woman grinding millet and singing. Very sweet.

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