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The Dogon hold different views about many things. The most striking characteristic is a lively adherence to animist beliefs, complete with periodic sacrifices to sacred crocodiles. Most of their buildings, village layout, and day-to-day activities relate to some aspect of their religion. Islam and Christianity have made small inroads - we saw a mud mosque in one village - but local beliefs have made their indelible marks. Tonight we attended a Catholic mass in an open church. We were drawn to the ceremony by heavy drumming and loud music. Everyone sat by torchlight on rough wooden benches under a low, thatched roof. The priest came dressed in T-shirt and sneakers. He didn't say much, but he did ask us for donations. The congregation chanted in their local language, the drums boomed, and the whole ceremony felt like a scene from "Lord of the Flies." Animist beliefs dominate this culture. The Dogon keep their burial caves high in the cliff wall and they hold these areas as their most sacred places. When a person dies, the people show their grief in a rich choreography of masked dances.
Masks play an important role in Dogon culture, enabling men (only men participate in ceremonies) to represent the various aspects of their complex religion. This dance recounts the story of their origin.
Village elders lead the village and elect a chief.
We sleep another night, side-by-side, on rooftop. Snorers are not popular.