Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

The Festival of the Sacrifice, Mali Style -1-

Purely coincidentally, while we were away the other week, Miki and I were watching Michael Palin’s “Sahara” documentary, and his visit to Mali coincided with the Festival of the Sacrifice. We will publish now and again photos Miki took from the film to illustrate Madame Monets story.

P.S. The guy Palin met had left it until the last moment to get his sheep, and consequently paid rather over the odds for it, he likened it to the last-minute stampede for Christmas turkeys!

Festival of Sacrifice Mali 1

Festival of Sacrifice Mali 2

Festival of Sacrifice Mali 2b


December 22, 2007 - Posted by | culture, events, family, Festival of the Sheep, Festivals of the World, food, Muslim Holidays, photography, religion, travel


  1. I wonder if the people believe in these customs from different cultures in general? Customs I believe have begun as a story going way way back to the oral tradition of story telling that is evident in tribes my friend has visited that have lived in isolation from modern society completely and I have seen evidence of this. He has found out that it is in the story telling of their dreams the next morning that bring the tribe together and decisions are made on hunting and planting and harvesting and almost everything to do with their survival. Their interpretation of the dreams become the stories they tell and then the rituals they come up with together live on in the oral tradition from one generation to the next. This is the tribes global knowledge.
    I wonder in the modern civilized man still has a primal call to his tribal DNA that brings out the Festival of the Bulls as described in so many of Hemingway’s stories? Any thoughts?

    Comment by Michael | December 22, 2007

  2. Modern civilized man? Well, Michael, I don’t really think there is such a thing…the primitive lies under the skin and only because we, here in North america or in europe, do not kill and skin our meat it doesn’t really mean we are civilized. Just give us a few disasters (a major earthquake, some floods etc.) and you’ll see how civilized we really are (like New Orleans after the hurricane and a lot worst)… I spent some years in the countryside, in a country which wasn’t Mali, maybe, but we did had to kill our hog every christmas, kids watching and we where the lucky ones (I mean those who had a pig to butcher; that meaned you will have meat and grease etc. and with some patatoes you would not starve to death in winter time…) So, yes, I think our tribal DNA is right there… and you will never know how savage a very civilized man (or woman, for that matter) could become if hunger is at stake..
    And, by the way, I did the portrait of a sheep and it looks like the one in the middle from miki’s photo… And that Palin guy is great in A fish named Wanda…in which Kevin Kline ? did eat some poor fishes alive!(but reading and citing Nietzsche !)

    Comment by iondanu | December 22, 2007

  3. Take a look at this story about indigenous tribes and you then my question is given some framework to the question I asked and Danu also addressed:
    National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis on TEDTalks
    In this stunning talk, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world’s indigenous cultures, many of which are disappearing, as ancestral land is lost and languages die. (50 percent of the world’s 6000 languages are no longer taught to children.) Against a backdrop of extraordinary photos and stories that ignite the imagination, Davis argues that we should be concerned not only for preserving the biosphere, but also the “ethnosphere,” which he describes as “the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.” An anthropologist and botanist by training, Davis has traveled the world, living among indigenous cultures. He’s written several books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow and Light at the Edge of the World. (Recorded February 2003 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 22:44)
    I can’t but help wonder how much “story telling” has contributed to our collective well being and supports the ideology of Madame Monet’s Story Telling theme.

    Comment by Michael | December 22, 2007

  4. I totally agree with you, Danu, about the modern civilized man! And I don’t need to experience how WE ALL would behave when “hunger is at stake”, it is so obvious! The civilisation skin is so thin, it scares me sometimes… it scares me above all when I see that thin skin by myself… you just need to be hurt at the right point in the right amount by the right person and here we are!
    By the way: we do kill and skin our meat in Europa! I will make next week some entry about a special festival taking place in the Pyrenees, which reminds me extremely of the Sacrifice of the sheep. I grew up with such traditions, it means that it is very natural for me… but I’ll speak about it in my entry.
    Kevin made me discover the documentary films from that Palin Guy. I love them. After Sahara, we are looking “Himalaya” right now.
    Yes, I remember your sheep, if you mean the one you featured in your blog. You can show it here, if you like.

    Comment by Miki | December 22, 2007

  5. This is an extremely interesting thread, guys. I agree with Danu, the primitive lurks close to the surface, like a leviathan needing only a small change in circumstance to break the surface tension of “civilisation”. Michael, Storytelling has been an integral, indispensable part of the development of the human race, a tool not only to entertain, but to pass down knowledge from generation to generation. In times past, and indeed in some cultures still, it was the only real means of ensuring information survival. I believe knowledge of our forebears actions and collective wisdom only serve to enhance us and give us a gift to pass on in turn to other generations. This is ignored at our peril, as is witnessed by the decline in society in general. Many elderly, marginalised in this micro-attention span world we live in, are vessels of great wisdom and knowledge and wonderful stories. My old friend Keith, an old rocker who enjoyed great success through four decades of music, rubbing shoulders with the greats, finally died this year aged 73. I would have him come round to my place, sit on the balcony with our coffees, and just get him to talk to me. He had so much to tell. Now he’s gone, but much of his life story is in my head. Michael, thanks for the music link by the way, I’ll be checking that out. Danu, your film knowledge does you credit! Palin was great as Ken, the animal rights activist in “A Fish..” Plus, he was alaso wonderful in “The Missionary” and “A Private Function”
    A very funny, interesting, and now, well-travelled guy!

    Comment by kevmoore | December 22, 2007

  6. Miki, I don’t know how to put an image on the blog, otherwise than as a post… and I think in the French-Spanish Pyrinei mountains (as in all rural regions) there are a lot of common things with the Romanian (near) Carpathian region I was borned and raised. There still are out there places pretty much autonomous and with strong old traditions, where people do what they have to do to survive or to live…

    Micheal Palin’s commented voyages were even on the Romanian television of my youth! I liked them plenty! (I don’t know the movies you mentionned but there is one – a propos of Storytelling – which is named exactly that, Storytelling, no big names but a dark comedy extremely entertaining (and bitter) about nowdays american civilization…Kevin, man, you should right down your memories before they fade away! I still have a tape of my grandfather telling me the story of his immigration in the States in 1907! and how he ate horse meat on the ship (horse meat is not eaten in Romania even if here at Sherbrooke we have a Horsemeat shop…)

    Comment by iondanu | December 22, 2007

  7. I don’t know either, Danu. I don’t know if it is possible inna comment. If it is possible, and if you have an uRL for the image, then I think I knwo the HTML code to do it. But I will experiemnt a little bit with that although I don’t believe it will work.
    If you want to show us a photo just make an entry, it is as fast as a comment!
    I guess you are right with the similar traditions in autonomous rural regions, above all when they have to do with food. We all need to eat, most of us want to eat meat, so we have to kill animals, and when these are bigger animals like sheep and pigs, then it is quite logical that people make a feast out of it because it anyway requires another kind of logistic effort than when you kill a chicken (so sorry Susan…)!
    When I was living in France, horse meat was popular by people who hadn’t enough money to buy beef. I remember having been invited in such a family one day, and I had to eat horse meat, I was horrified but I had to do it, as I was a very polite well-educated child! In fact it tasted like beef, but not as tender by far… it was the first and only time I had horse meat! My psychological aversion was too deep!

    Comment by Miki | December 22, 2007

  8. My father was born and spoke about Ukraine’s Carpathians so I guess he lived there in the foothills because of the picture you see taken outside a hut when he was a boy. This photo can be seen on philosophis+ entry my personal narrative+

    He escaped Germany’s attack on Poland and Ukraine in the crossfire of Russia coming in from the West. He was 13 and never saw his home again.

    Guess I am lucky to be hear and that’s why I always told my dad he was my hero.

    Ah Ukraine’s Carpathians I want to visit one day and stay!!!!

    Comment by Michael | December 22, 2007

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