BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DOGON

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

The history of the Dogon of West Africa is ripe with mystery and intrigue, being one of the few to hold on firmly to their indigenous spiritual traditions.



The Dogon occupy the central plateau region of Mali south of the Niger River bend as well as the country of Burkina Faso. They number nearly 1 million people and speak the Dogan languages, which are a distinct branch of what western linguistic describes as the Niger-Congo language family. They are one of few groups who, in effort to retain and maintain cultural autonomy, migrated away from increasingly lslamized areas into the contemporary regions they now occupy. Their sacred societies, and rituals therein, are quite ancient, most notably the "Awa", in which they adorn beautiful, elaborate masks worn during the dancing rituals, the Sigi (which honors the ancestors) and Dama (funerary ritual).


Their leader is known as the Hogon. In this capacity, he is the senior and supreme spiritual, political, and military authority. The Dogon are an agricultural people, having little to want or need from industrial society, they survive off of the sustenance and trade of their agriculture; primarily rice, as well as sorghum, onions, peanuts, and a host of other vegetables. The Dogan, like many other groups in the region, are also metallurgists, creating iron and other metal tools as well as art and sculptures with a precision and talent that can not easily be immitated by hand.


In Dogan spirituality the creator deity is known as Amma. Amma has been suggested to share an etymological relationship with Amen, which is also found among the indigenous languages of the Yoruba, Mande, as well as the ancient Nile Valley languages and, of course, Hebrew. Amma is a figure said to be both male and female. Some have regarded this as denoting genderlessness, but, more accurately, such represents the duality of Amma, illuminating the complementary relationship of pairs expressed symbolically in every aspect of Dogan cultural and spiritual cosmology, as well as a representation of the male and female aspects of biological reproduction.


The Dogan have been the center of much hated debated over the question of the prior (and ancient) knowledge of astronomical phenomena that modern science has only in the past century bore out to be accurate. "The Sirius Mystery" was a book written by author Robert K. G. Temple about the years anthropologist Marcel Griaule spent among the Dogan, uncovering their knowledge of the Sirius star system, the rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter and a host of other astronomical marvels impossible to see with the naked eye. There have been disputes over this claim, insisting that either Griaule or earlier European explorers must have past on such knowledge to the Dogan.


Arguments aside, the star labeled Sirius is completely visible as it is the brightest Star in the night sky and has been a point of interest for African Civilization dating back to the ancient Nile Valley. The people of Km.t ( largely pronounced Kemet; pre-ptolemaic Ancient Egypt), used the star in order to calculated the times of nile inundation. It also served for them as an astronomical and mythological symbol, much like the Dogan. In fact, as somewhat aforementioned, there have been scholars who have through linguistic, anthropological, and ethnographic evidence traced the Dogan origins (as well as various cosmological origins of the Yoruba, lgbo, Mande, Hausa, and other West-African groups) to ancient Nile Valley Civilizations (particularly to Kemet, Kush, and Meroe). Evidences have lead to a host of theories involving a series of mass exoduses from the ancient Nile Valley region due to warfare and invasion, however, what is most evident from African history is that African people did not live in abject isolation as once erroneously posited by western historians and their racist narratives. Throughout millennia, African people have traveled, traversed, and triumphed the various terrains and climates of the whole of the African continent, trading commodities, warring and peacemaking for access to land and resources, and, as a result, blending language, culture, art, and, naturally, DNA.

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