Village Songo

Songo, a village of about 1000 inhabitants, is located on the Bandiagara plateau, about 60km to the west of the Bandiagara cliffs and 14km to the west-northwest of the town Bandiagara. The village is surrounded by three rock formations that dominate the landscape. While the present village is situated in the plain, the village (then named Songo Kolo) was formerly located in a strategically advantageous position on top of the eastern rock formation, where its remains can still be found today. The relocation of the village to the plain appears to date to the second half of the 19th century, when many rescue villages were given up after the French colonization of the area.

The history of Songo can be traced in local oral traditions, which report of the successive arrival of the five patriclans inhabiting the village today: the Yanogué, Karembé, Guindo, Dégoga and Seyba. The order of their arrival is said to form the basis of the social organization of the present village and its layout, as well as of the distribution of land. The first two patriclans to arrive, the Yanogue and the Karembe, own all land between them. As village founders, the Yanogue in pre-Islamic times provided the spiritual leader of the village, the hogon. The Karembe still today provide the village chief. The Guindo, the third to arrive in Songo, are responsible for the circumcision ritual. The Degoga and Seyba clans, the fourth and fifth in the order of arrival, do not appear to have any particular function in the running of the village affairs.

Songo is subdivided into four village quarters, which are inhabited by one or more of the five founder families:

Differences in spatial organization, architecture and building material exist between the older central parts of the village ("Old Songo") and the newer parts on its periphery ("New Songo").

Old Songo
New Songo