Program Change for March 19 Virtual Exploration: Alain Honnart on Mali’s Dogan Country

“The Timbuktu School for Nomads” with Nicholas Jubber, originally scheduled for our March 19 Virtual Exploration, has been canceled due to the unavailability of the speaker. Luckily, we have been able to secure a fantastic replacement: Alain Honnart of the Francophone Chapter of TCC, whose presentation will focus on “A Trek of Discovery thru Mali’s Dogan Country.” The program will take place on Saturday, March 19, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada) / 1800 GMT.

Our replacement program visits the same general area of the Sahel region in Mali, but involves a totally different culture. Our original program would have focused on Muslim traditions; our replacement program focuses on the animistic culture of the Dogon people in Mali. From adorned masks to astronomical beliefs, the Dogan have generally remained true to their ancient culture and traditions. The main area populated by the Dogon is the Bandiagara Escarpment, sandstone cliffs south of the Niger bend. The Dogan live on top and below these cliffs as well as on the plains. The Dogon people are not shy about sharing their cultural heritage with outsiders, which is why it has become the most visited tourist area of the country. This increased exposure to the outside world in recent decades has also resulted in the gradual erosion of age-old traditions. Luckily, our speaker was able to experience these amazing peoples before their locality appeared on many travelers’ bucket lists.

Our speaker Alain Honnart, a semi-retired engineer from Paris, became enamored with the Dogan after reading books from the French archeologist Marcel Griaule. In 1983, Alain undertook an expedition to the area with his wife and another couple. Accompanied by a team of porters, they camped out under starlit skies, siphoning water from swamps, without the benefit of roads, cellphones, or GPS. He describes himself as a travel neophyte at the time; he has since become a travel junkie, having been to 150 countries.

Preview of the Next Virtual Exploration
With Dr. Robert Headland
April 16 2022
@ 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)/ 1800 GMT

Dr Headland is a senior associate with the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. His principal interests involve historical geography and associated studies. Specifically, his work concerns human effects on polar regions, especially the smaller islands and archipelagos there. Archival details and other historical records – from the earliest expeditions to recent events – have provided him with data for studies of long periods of climatic variation, with glaciological and biological changes in the polar regions.

An advisor to several expeditionary organizations and departments of government, Bob is also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Institute for Historical Research, University of London, where he delivers lectures for several courses. In 1984, he was decorated with the Polar Medal. He is a member of both the Arctic Club and the Antarctic Club. He has spent many years with Quark Expeditions®, educating travelers on the history of polar exploration aboard icebreakers in the Arctic and Antarctic. During this time, he has been associated with the conservation of the historical huts and related sites in both polar regions.

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