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Tradition helps Mali women provide for their families amid insurgency

Bandiagara, Mali, Mar 15 (EFE).- In the small town of Bandiagara, in central Mali, Dogon indigenous women are providing for their families with a centuries old tradition, cloth dyeing.

The Islamist insurgence in Mali has divided many families, with Dogon men, traditionally hunters, being forced to leave their homes to fight militants across the country.

But Dogon women have always been at the center of their community’s economy.

In addition to taking care of household chores, the indigenous women are traders, farmers and dye artisans, a tradition that has been passed on from mother to daughter for generations.

But with the security crisis, life in Bandiagara has become a struggle.

Before the crisis, the artisan fabric would sell at a good price to Western tourists, but today, the women struggle to make ends meet.

Baba Napo, a former tour guide in the area, said that the region has not seen tourists since 2012, leaving Dogon women forgotten.

“I urge administrative and political authorities to value these courageous mothers. We must give them more opportunities and support them in this situation. Many of them are widows who support their families,” she told Efe.

The struggle led to the creation of ​​Ambadingué, an association that works to increase productivity and competitiveness while preserving the trade’s traditions.

“We founded the company among ourselves to end our precarious situation and prosper,” head of ​​Ambadingué, Djénèba Guindo, 65, told Efe.

Guindo said the community is facing a shortage of water and rising prices of raw materials as well as the lack of tourism.

“I learned it (the craft) from my mother, who learned it from my grandmother. At first I only made the cotton yarns, but then I learned to do the whole process,” Djénèba, who supports her family with the craft, said.

The ancestral heritage includes the production of cotton yarn, its conversion into fabrics and finally dyeing the fabric.

But despite the conflict and insecurity, the Ambadingué dyers remain optimistic, like the colors of Djénèba’s fabrics.

“My dream is peace. It is really needed these days. I invite everyone to be peaceful in their hearts and minds and wish for the happiness of women and families,” she said. EFE


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