Friday, August 09, 2013

Mopti, City on Three Islands

December 29, 2000 

Built on three islands connected by dykes, Mopti is the country's major route intersection. Peoples from many groups call Mopti home, including the Bambara, Songhai, Fula, Tuaregs (and their former slave - the Bellasha), Moors, Bozos, and Dogon. Once a Bozo fishing village, it has the largest river port in what was the French Sudan and now has about 100,000 people. Pirogues and their larger counterparts, pinasses, carry goods up and down the Bani/Niger River. Transport is even possible to Timbuktu during and after the rainy season. While in Mopti, we walked over to the busy port. Here we saw slabs of salt and other items that had come from Timbuktu. People were boarding pinasses and pirogues, for either transportation or fishing. 

The Niger river as well as the converging Bani river is much higher than what the Niger is in Bamako. Fishing continues to be of great importance. We also walked through the older part of Mopti. While it too had mud architecture, neither the mosque or houses were as impressive as those in Djenne. On the second day we took a pinasse to the opposite side of the Niger River, to a Tuareg slave village and then to a Bozo village. Drying fish were spread out over the sandy shore.  Like children at other villages, the Bozo children followed us, full of curiosity. However, their energy levels and demands for bics (pens) and bonbons far overshadowed any others. In the evening, we were treated to a glorious sunset while traveling by river back to the hotel. 

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