Dogon, Jamsay in Mali

Dogon, Jamsay
Photo Source:  Mary Newcombe  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source:  Anonymous
People Name: Dogon, Jamsay
Country: Mali
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 256,000
World Population: 256,600
Primary Language: Dogon, Jamsay
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 11.00 %
Evangelicals: 3.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Gur
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Dogons live in a dry remote savannah area in Mali, spilling over into Burkina Faso. About 20 different languages are spoken in different communities. Unless they learn the language spoken by a neighbor they would not understand each other even though they all identify themselves ethically as Dogon. The Jamsay are one of these.

Dogon territory includes a rocky plateau in the West and a sandy plain in the east where the Jamsay live, separated by a 400-700 meter high sheer cliff. The Dogon built their first villages in caves in this cliff, safe from the slave raids of the Fulani nomads who roamed the area. Isolated and distrustful of outsiders, they grew into a scattering of micro-communities, eventually each with a different language.

Jamsay Dogon is widely known as the prestige variety due to its use as the language of radio broadcasts. But Jamsay also realize that they are relative newcomers even though they have a larger population and cover more land area than the other Dogon peoples. The flat sandy territory makes farming, communication and growth easier than the cliffs and rocky plateau of their cousins. Culturally they are quite different from those living in the mountains and the escarpment.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For centuries, the Dogon have resisted Islam. But as society modernizes, they are increasingly deciding that animistic religion is no longer adequate and grudgingly accept Islam for lack of an alternative. In the few villages where Christianity has been lived out by missionaries, or locals who have become Christians elsewhere, one can indeed see the growth of the Christian faith.

Text Source:   Anonymous