Mali 2001

Travel time: September / October 2001  |  by Christian Werner

Mali 2001: Djenné

At 7 o´clock in the morning I went to the Garre Routierre to take a bushtaxi to Djenné. Now I got a nice experience about local transport in Mali. The bushtaxi leave when it is full. And full is a definition of the driver. This minibus, which would be totally overloaded with about 9 people in Europe covered 34 people here. Back in Germany I can´t give you an answer of the question how does this works, but it works. We crossed the Bani River by a ferry and I still can´t understand why the ferry didn´t sunk, but it didn´t and we reached Djenné safely, the first highlight of my journey.

The absolutely highlight of this town is its mosque, which gives an unforgetable picture during the colourful Monday market in front (photo can be seen on Mali 2001 page). But the many old houses with maroc styled windows are visible as well. So I started to discover Djenné together with my local guide Bamoye Bouguri. It´s not necessary to take a guide here in Djenné but it makes life more easier as you got followed by at least 10 people who are offering their services as a guide permanently. As soon as you get a guide this one keeps the others away. So first of all you need a guide for the guides but Bamoye was a good choice as he reported a lot of interesting things about the town and showed me a lot of interesting places. At night I went in front of the Mosque to watch the preparings for the big market day. It was something like a festival, this Sunday night before the Monday market. The Monday market itself and the atmosphere is not to tellable. It is something between buisness and festival. The whole morning people crossed the Bani River by boat to reach Djenné for the market.

It´s time to write a few words about Djenné, or better, about Mali in general. A voyage to Mali is a voyage into the past. Here in Djenné I remembered the old Pompeji, which I visited a few years ago. Still if the old Roman town with his watercanals and its modern streets are more modern then Djenné was. There hasn´t changed much here in Africa the last 2,000 years. First of all the Islam arrived (there are a lot of kids studying the Koran here, the koran schools were full, while the public schools kept close), later the plastic came which is visible in the dust everywhere in the streets, and sometimes a car is passing. But the people are happy with their life and it doesn´t seems to me they got big interests in modern western technology. For example, there was only one telephone in Djenné at the time I was there.

Nevertheless you can find the most friendly and helpful people I ever find on my journeys until yet. A lot of children are happy if they can walk a few meteres through the street with a Babou (white) hand in hand before they got catched by their mother. Friendships are made rapidely. So I had to disappoint people I met somewhere before and I couldn´t remember them. In a country, where it is hard to survive daily, where the most important things are to find something to drink and to eat the relationship among the people is more important than luxurious life and Western acquisitions.

© Christian Werner, 2005
You are here : Overview Africa Mali Djenné
The trip
From Bamako to Mopti, Djenné, Dogon Country, along the Niger to Timbuktu and through Segou back to Bamako
Start of journey: Sep 13, 2001
Duration: 4 weeks
End of journey: Oct 13, 2001
Travelled countries: Mali
The Author
Christian Werner is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 17 years.