Dominique David

A personal look on the world

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Mali

"The pinasse left Mopti nearly three days ago. Three days downstream, watching the pirogues' ballet on the river, sometimes lost in the middle of the blue immensity like on some inner sea. Three days spent with the crew and the passengers, uncomfortably settled on grain or charcoal bags. Three days punctuated with the many tea and prayer breaks. A few stops to disembark passengers or to load some cargo. Three long days, but sadly such a short journey. The sky is turning purple and at the bend of a meander of the river, Timbuktu appears in the distance.

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Off the tourist track, poor and arid Eastern Mali was formerly the centre of a vast and powerful empire. Known as the Songhai Empire, it stretched from current Niger to the Gambia, covering all of the present day Mali. Very little remains of this past splendour.

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