Agence Future Travel log 3.8: Africa - Dogon
In the Dogon Valley, we left our bikes in the shed of a tourist reception. A guide accompanied us on a five-day walk along the rock face of the border between the plateau and the valley.
A quiet man called Phillipe told us how tourism was changing the way of the youngsters in the Dogon villages. He warned that if the old tradition of listening to each other in village meetings was not soon picked up again people would hear too late about the dangers of deforestation and there would be no more trees left in another 50 years. When we talked to some of the young men he might have been referring to, we found they saw the ideal future as a mirror image of industrial countries today.
This came up quite frequently in all of the stages of the West African fieldtrip: many of the young men and kids aspire to a future which is comparable to what we know in the West today. They look forward to brick houses and many roads. On the other hand they find the idea that every family might own a car, mildly amusing.
In the Dogon village of Kani Kombole we stayed on the roof of the guest house of a Swiss NGO for the improvement of living conditions in the village. We were received by the local manager and a Breton biologist who had just spent six weeks here for the NGO. Yann explained how the process of desertification was threatening the village, how much work and money was needed to call it to a halt and how much more work needed to be done in other villages. He showed us how water wells get poisoned and how village mills stop working when there is no more money for fuel.
Yann also introduced us to an old Dogon man whose vision of the future was quite clear cut. Things would change, he explained. "They have changed. Because before people danced for rain and today our sons go to the mosque." Change he found neither a good nor a bad thing, just inevitable. For his own future, he wished to work on the land until his dying day.
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