Enndé, where the Dogon and Tellem meet

Enndé (sometimes known as Endé) is a typical Dogon village, complete with mud houses, traditional granaries, a beautiful mosque and the traditional, male only, meeting place called Togu na. Forged over centuries, life here goes on to a tried-and-tested rhythm which seems timeless. On the surface nothing much happens, but a walk through the village brings you face-to-face with the ancient culture of the Dogon, still going strong in the 21st Century.

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Women and children pound millet, Ennde, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Women and children pound millet, Ennde, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Pounding millet, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Pounding millet, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Stroll the dusty streets and you’ll encounter women and children pounding millet, using only a giant pestle and mortar (and a lot of physical effort); goats and cattle roam around looking for food; women carry firewood on their heads to use for cooking; water is raised from the well; men weave cloth on hand looms; and people greet each other in the elongated and formulaic Dogon manner.

A man weaves on a hand loom, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

A man weaves on a hand loom, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Enndé is far removed from the the 21st Century of industrialised countries. There is no electricity, no running water, we didn’t spot a single motor vehicle and there are very few of the modern comforts we have come to expect, even in fairly remote parts of the world. Don’t even think about internet connectivity.

The Dogon Country is Mali’s main tourist selling point, and communities here are embracing tourism to varying degrees. This is leading to change at many levels within Dogon society, and may have a profound impact on undermining traditional community life. It wouldn’t be the first time that tourism destroys the thing that created it in the first instance. Although, if the toilet facilities where we stayed are an indicator of change, it may be some time before visitors can expect the five star treatment.

Toilet facilities, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Toilet facilities, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Woman carrying fire wood, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Woman carrying fire wood, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Traditional woven cloth, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Traditional woven cloth, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Traditional granary and cow, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Traditional granary and cow, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

The Togu na offers a fascinating insight into Dogon culture. It is where the men of the village go to discuss matters of great importance, it is also a place for conflict resolution. If villagers are in conflict, they meet in the Togu na to discuss and resolve their issues. These open sided structures are built with deliberately low roofs forcing everyone to sit, and ruling out fights. Anyone leaping up in anger will only ever get a sore head, before being forced to sit down again. That seems like a system the British Parliament could usefully adopt.

Togu na, a traditional meeting place, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Togu na, a traditional meeting place, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Togu na, a traditional meeting place, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Togu na, a traditional meeting place, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Carved door, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Carved door, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Mosque, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Mosque, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

What makes Enndé special is it’s incredibly dramatic location underneath the Bandiagara plateau, the cliffs of which tower massively over the village. A walk up to the cliffs bring you closer to the ancient ruins of the Tellem civilisation. The Dogon have only lived in this region for around a eight hundred years; before they arrived the Tellem, a race of pigmies, populated this remote region. Ironically, the Dogon migrated to this region after being displaced by the advances of warlike Islamic tribes; it seems they in turn displaced the Tellem.

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

All that remains of the Tellem are the structures they left behind, both in the crevasses of the cliff face and at the base of the cliff. Some are houses, others food stores and many are burial sites. Given the technology available to them, the Tellem must have been excellent rock climbers. Enndé has a Hogon, a spiritual leader within the community. He still lives in one of the houses in the cliffs, but he’s pretty elusive and we didn’t get an opportunity to meet him.

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

Tellem and Dogon structures, Enndé, Dogon Country, Mali, Africa

5 thoughts on “Enndé, where the Dogon and Tellem meet

    • The Dogon are expert craftspeople. Their religious ceremonies involve some beautiful masks, which sadly I’ve only seen in photos. They are normally kept out of sight, locked away until religious festivities begin. Unfortunately, some of these ceremonies only happen every 60 years and we didn’t get to witness any.

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