Mali — Political tumult in the last few weeks — a military coup, a Tuareg and Islamist takeover in the north — has all but eliminated tourism in this West African nation, which has long been a magnet for Western travelers in search of firsthand encounters with living art traditions.
But in calmer times the usual focus of such a quest is the landscape of cliffs and gorges in central Mali known as Dogon country. The classical tour includes two standard items: a Dogon masked dance performance and a view of a mural-size expanse of rock paintings, reputedly ancient, in the area.
Dances are arranged by appointment. You book one through a local hotel, pay upfront and hire a driver to ferry you out along cratered roads to a village. There, with the help of guides, you make your way up a cliffside to a shelflike clearing.Economics and culture?
In these circumstances tourism has been a godsend. The packaged dances have brought in cash and have given young men a reason to stay home. By packaging and selling their culture, the Dogon have been keeping it viable.[How many people live in a Dogon household? 5 people. The mother, the father, the son, the daughter, and a French anthropologist]. See pics of Dogon country here.