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Drawing of Carved Walking Stick                  Drawing of Carved Walking Stick                  Drawing of Carved Walking Stick

Here is an explanation of the carved walking stick written by Dr. Zakari Saye, son of Dogolou Saye, translated by Dorothy with drawings by Marion.

The story dates back to about the 14th - 15th centuries.

The word Dogon means ‘little brother‘, not in the Dogon language, but in the language of the Malinké people. They were ‘little brothers‘ of the Malinké people and lived with them in the village of Manding. Before the coming of Islam the people were Animists, but with the rise of Islam, those who did not wish to convert were forced to flee.

So the Dogons, not wishing to convert to Islam, decided to leave Manding. They also decided to take with them the bones of their ancestors. When they opened their ancestors‘ tomb, they did not find their bones at all, but a live snake came out of the tomb.

The people leaving Manding were four brothers and their whole families, so these became the four tribes of the Dogon people - they are Aru, Djon, Ono and Domno.

The people followed the snake, which led them safely into what is called Dogon country, and the snake came to represent their ancestors.

The snake is called Lébé and this story, belief and respect for the snake has survived in the Dogon country. Snakes can be found in Dogon houses - either family homes or more often, the house of the Hogon (the spiritual chief of the village). The Hogon must not wash. He is constantly licked by snakes.

(With the coming of Islam and Christianity, stories such as this are gradually being forgotten)

Zakari Saye belongs to the family of Aru.