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Destination Details

Sangha, Mali

Just beneath the village of Bamba, in the Northern part of Dogon country in Mali, lies a small, yet sacred lake, where fishing is permitted only once a year – during the unique ritual called Antogo. On the day that is finally designated as the day of Antogo, hundreds gather from all parts of Mali around Bamba’s lake. The 3 biggest groups are formed by the most respected and ancient families of various Dogon villages. The group from Bamba itself is usually the largest. These groups of people maintain a collective mystical silence, except for the wise who recite incantations and praise deities. When they are done speaking, the ritual itself – and all the magic associated with it – begins. The children and men form a frame of sorts around the lake; women are prohibited from participating in the ritual. Once the frame is formed, they wait and watch, until the tinkling of a bell and a gunshot is heard. Then, hundreds of Dogon jump wildly into the lake, armed with fishing baskets, attempting to catch as many fish as possible, as fast as they can. The caught fish are quickly stashed into local leather bags, but sometimes people keep them in their mouths until they can find a place for storage. The Dogons soon become unrecognizable, covered completely in mud. The dance continues, nevertheless, and the fishing quickly turns into a frenzy. All this goes on for about 15 minutes, when a gunshot marks the end of the ritual.

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