Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep2
(GRUNTS OF EFFORT)
Welcome to the 3 o'clock ferry from Mauritania to Senegal.
We're crossing one of the great rivers of the Sahara,
the Senegal River, which is 1,000 miles long.
It's not just a border between Mauritania, which we just left,
and Senegal, on which we're about to set foot,
it's the demarcation of the two sides of the Sahara -
the Arab north and the black south.
From now on we're in black Africa.
(AFRICAN POP MUSIC)
Just before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean,
the Senegal River swells into a wide estuary.
Suddenly everything is very different.
Where there was sand - water; where tents - warehouses,
where only camel meat, there's fresh smoked fish everywhere.
This is St Louis in Senegal,
founded by the French over 350 years ago.
It was the cornerstone of their African empire.
Even today, it's like stepping into provincial France.
It's amazing how little we know of other countries' heroes.
In the 1920s and 30s, the French were captivated by the exploits
of the daring young pilots who used to fly enormous distances,
solo, by day and night, to bring the mail from France
to West Africa and on to South America.
One of the most famous was Jean Mermoz,
who disappeared in the Atlantic in December 1936, aged 36.
The whole of France mourned.
Mermoz spent his last night here
in the Hôtel de la Poste in St Louis.
Senegal has been independent since 1960.
It seems in no hurry to shake off the French connection.
Combien est Le Monde, s'il vous plaît. Neuf?
Today's headlines mark the death of another French hero,
the singer Charles Trenet.
Merci. Charles Trenet est mort.
# La mer...da da da dee da da da da da dum #
There's no shortage of guides to show you round the town,
but a pony and trap can become a pony and tourist trap
and I want to look beyond the colonial picturesque
for a glimpse of life in modern Senegal.
I go to the home of Jacob Yakouba,
one of Senegal's best-known artists.
Jacob's particular genre is the lightly-clad female.
Preferably quite young.
His greatest inspiration is his glamorous wife, Marie Madeleine,
an actress and star of Senegal's most popular TV soap.
Over a communal platter of fish balls and spicy stew,
I ask her about her role.
- À la télévision? - Oui.
Ah, yes. A religious problem discussed in the...
It's a soap opera. The great Senegalese ''EastEnders'',
of which Marie Madeleine is the star.
She marries a man who has an affair then divorces her.
She wants to remarry him and does, three times, I think.
That's the maximum you can divorce and remarry.
Then she wants...the man asks her to marry his best friend...
something like that!
(CONTINUES IN FRENCH)
- The submissive wife. - Oui, mais moi...
You are a liberated woman in...for the television?
- Femme libéré, oui? - Femme libéré.
Jacob doesn't seem quite so sure about this.
I enquire if polygamy is common in Senegal.
- Il y a beaucoup... - There is a lot of polygamy.
You've chosen monogamy, a-ah.
..by good example.
- I'm afraid! - Oh, you're afraid.
Afraid? Oh, wow! Look at you.
- Would you... - She's my commander.
Would Marie Madeleine allow Jacob to have another wife?
- Jamais, never! - We've got that clear.
160 miles south of St Louis is a small island
which because of safe moorings and easy defences
became the most successful trading centre in West Africa.
It's called Gorée.
Gorée is still prosperous and attractive,
but it hides an ugly past.
The island could be any tourist trap on the French Riviera,
but it owes its popularity to its infamous reputation
as a departure point for millions of slaves
taken from the interior of Africa, from Central Africa,
the Sahara area, and shipped out to the plantations in America
by the English, French and Portuguese.
(CRACK OF WHIP)
No one knows how many slaves the Europeans bought
from the African traders and shipped out of Gorée.
At the old Governor's mansion, they rehearse a dance
which commemorates the sufferings of many millions.
(HAUNTING MODERN AFRICAN MUSIC)
This and other dances like it will be performed
for thousands of Afro-Americans who come to Gorée each year
in search of evidence, explanations,
and, if possible, comfort
from seeing where their ancestors
had their last sight of Africa.
It's time to turn away from the sea and back into Africa.
First stop, the Senegalese capital of Dakar,
a city of inexhaustible energy.
Wrestling is the most popular sport in Senegal,
and tonight a crowd hails the Pan-African champion, Morf Adan.
Stars like him can fill huge stadiums,
but tonight he's in his own back yard inspiring the locals.
I catch up with the great man and some sheep in his courtyard.
He makes money from wrestling,
but spends most of it on his entourage.
Outside, the champions of the future are giving it their all.
You need only get the opponents' shoulders on the ground.
So a bout can last from five seconds to...maybe seven!
(WHISTLE-BLOWING AND CHEERING)
With such a crowd of competitors it could go on all night,
so I make my apologies and slip away...easier said than done!
(LAUGHTER AND CHEERS)
Wrestling is not the only alternative to an early night.
Dakar has a booming music scene,
and, at a jazz club by the fish market,
the band includes locals and an American ex-pat, Tom Val.
The clubs here, they're kinda... they're kinda, you know...
not sure they want to hire a band
that doesn't play the local music.
- You need some? - Do I need some?
You think I need some. Well, thank you.
- You're welcome. - Thank you.
He knew something I didn't know. Ah, the manager.
How long have you run this club?
Three months...and 21 days.
Will it be different from your other clubs?
- Yeah. - Why? How different?
- Because they were rectangular. - Oh, right!
- Wasn't the answer I expected. - I need space.
- Space, yeah. - I'm Lebou, from my own origin.
- I need to see the sea. - Lebou is a fishing caste.
- From fishing...people, right. - I'm kind of fisherman.
- Were you a fisherman once? - I don't catch any fishes.
I can throw it back, nothing is coming, man.
It's a great evening, thank you very much indeed.
- It's great. - Good luck with everything.
- According to my age... - What is your age?
- 38? - No, no. Are you crazy?
- Yes, I'm crazy. - I'm 60 years old, man.
- 60. 6-0. - Just about my age, really.
- I'm older than you. - You're very well preserved.
You're in good shape. How do you stay in shape?
- Well, I try to. - No, you cannot say.
- You don't say. - I won't say, certainly not.
Every single night he...gets some exercise!
Next morning, I get myself and my remaining brain cells
away from the fleshpots of Dakar.
Conveniently, the French built a railway to connect the coast
with the centre of their African empire.
This is the Bamako Express, one of only two trains a week
between Dakar and the capital of Mali.
There's a nasty rumour that it might leave on time!
Having followed the desert
to its western limits on the Atlantic
and tasted the forbidden delights of city life in Dakar,
we're going to explore the desert to the east,
through the city which is more synonymous with the Sahara
than any other, the city of Timbuktu.
The roads are lousy, so we'll take a train to Bamako in Mali.
It's about 36 hours, a mere 36 hours, if it's on time.
We'll rely on the railway
to take us nearly 1,000 miles into the interior.
After that, a steam ferry service up the Niger River
to our destination, Timbuktu.
They seem to have totally overrun the city.
Either they're very fond of sheep
or there's a sheep convention,
but everywhere...here are some more coming up.
Rather well-fed, rather well looked after,
there they are, nuzzling round the old container.
I've never seen so many sheep in one place in my life.
I'm a bit of a sheep man! Well, I like them...just eh...
..in an aesthetic way.
Lovely little fluffy tails... the...mummy bits!
The city sprawls on.
Over two million people cram into Dakar and its suburbs.
Many have come in from the countryside,
preferring safety in numbers
to the hardships of wind and drought.
Amazing. The most extraordinary shopping mall in the world.
It runs for about a mile and everything is here.
There's production over there, people making the things,
wholesale and retail down here.
It's like a huge store. Handbags, ladies underwear...
(LOCALS SHOUTING OUT)
The train never goes above a stately 30 miles per hour,
allowing time to admire the ubiquitous baobab trees,
whose branches look so much like roots,
legend has it the devil shoved them in the ground upside down.
The train is packed, largely it seems with women,
all decked out in striking West African style.
I get talking to one of them, an English teacher called Dadé,
on the perennial topic of husbands and wives
and how many of each.
Before Islam, polygamy existed in society.
They said, ''OK, a man can marry up to four wives
''so they can work in the fields, help each other.''
That was the idea, you see.
Then the law of Islam entered Africa.
Men said that the Koran said that,
since we are Muslim, we can marry up to four wives.
What do you think? Do you approve?
Let me tell you something - I am against that.
- Thought you might be. - I am against that.
That is my opinion. I am against...I know why.
First of all I'm jealous.
I don't want to share my husband.
And second, in every polygamist house there is always trouble,
because co-wives, you know, are jealous.
Sometimes they finish before the judge.
Every day, either in Senegal or Mali,
because most of the time the husband has one house
and all four wives live in the same house.
You can't imagine that.
A wife can go to the marabou and do some ju-ju.
- The marabou is what? - He's a kind of priest.
He is a seer, he can see, he can predict the future
and he can make some ju-ju sometimes.
Every wife would like the man to love her better,
so they put some powder in the food or in the water.
Or sometimes if one of the wives is sick, for example,
they say, ''That's my co-wife. She's a witch.''
Superstition, ju-ju and black magic remain powerful forces.
Qu'est-ce que le plus longtemps?
At supper, I return to the mundane,
like when the train may arrive.
I ask my businessman friend if it's often late.
Diplomatically, he explains that its being on time is rare.
Very rare...like the cutlery!
Next morning, we crossed into Mali.
Borders aren't taken seriously here.
Tribal groups are spread across several countries.
The landscape is different. Flat Senegal gives way
to the rocky escarpments of Mali.
The heat builds, making concentration difficult.
Time drags on.
As we climb, we seem to be going slower than ever.
We've completed 33 hours of the supposedly 35-hour journey,
but we're still becalmed at some station on the way
and still 10 hours away from Bamako.
We stopped for this train,
which was occupying the single-track line.
Our progress is a matter of chance.
Whether we get there in 10 hours or 15 or 20, I just don't know.
In the lap of the gods.
Hello. How are you?
It's a good sign that we're moving, very encouraging.
There's a cloud of dust. I can't quite see the engine.
We're on the move, heading for Bamako and only 10 hours late.
I think that calls for some sort of celebration.
Une bière, s'il vous plaît. Merci.
500 back, so that's about 50p for a beer. Not bad.
I can't understand in an Islamic country whether they allow bars,
but obviously on this train.
It's typical of the tolerance
I've found in Mauritania, Senegal and now Mali.
They're not fierce about rules. If you want a beer, have a beer.
After a second, unscheduled night on the train,
during which water and most other supplies fail,
we finally pull into Bamako just before dawn.
I love travel, the promise of new places and new faces,
but I admit on Bamako station this morning,
my mask of optimism was as travel-worn as anything else.
The only good thing is that we got to Bamako.
It's five in the morning, I'm dazed and confused,
but there are a lot of people to help me.
- Yeah. Au revoir. - Where you come from?
Oh, I don't know. I've not a ...ing clue!
A shower, a shave and a change of underwear later,
I feel the joie de vivre slowly return.
Just as well, as the streets of Bamako are not for the faint-hearted.
I take refuge at a local café.
The proprietor will fix me the nearest thing to a double espresso.
I feel better for the shave, clean shirt and all that.
There's the station. We arrived in the dead of night.
Next to the station is the Hôtel de la Gare,
where the Rail Band used to meet.
The Rail Band was pioneered by Toumani Diabaté,
a Malian musician whose album I've been playing for three months.
It's wonderful music,
a fusion between traditional African and contemporary music.
He lives and works in Bamako.
I'm hoping to be able see him while I'm here,
see how he makes the music.
Tumali is not just a musician, he's also a producer.
I track him to the club where he's watching his new rap act.
The message of their latest track
is getting kids to go to school.
(RAPPING IN LOCAL DIALECT)
Later, Toumani takes to the stage with his own band.
The rhythms and instruments are solidly traditional,
featuring the lute-like ngoni,
the harp-like kora...and the balafon.
Music like this has put Mali on the world map
and has enabled Toumani to show me round his home city in style.
On the way to his home, we pass the great city centre mosque.
Then, in the market, a fetish stall of shrunken animal heads
shows that Islam still has to exist with voodoo.
The great treat of the day
is a masterclass with the man himself.
When did you start mixing the traditional instrument
with the more contemporary instruments like the guitar?
First of all is to start with traditional songs.
From there, to listen to James Brown's music,
to Otis Redding's, to Jimi Hendrix,
to Johnny Halliday, Salif Cater.
So I said the kora must be...
I have to open a new door for the kora,
- a universal door. - Did your father approve?
At first he said, ''The children, they are changing everything.''
''They are developing,'' I told him.
We had a nice meeting about that.
I said, ''I'm not changing the kora.
''I'm just developing the kora.''
(GENTLE HARP-LIKE MUSIC)
Kora playing, like so much else in Malian life,
is rich in history.
Toumani's family have been kora players for 72 generations.
400 miles from Bamako
lives one of the most extraordinary African tribes.
This is Tirelli, one of the villages of the Dogon people.
600 years ago, they retreated here from the Islamic invasions
and remained, until recently, cut off from the outside world.
Today, the head man of the village welcomes us.
Thank you for letting us into your home.
(SPEAKS IN DIALECT)
He says you are welcome and to make yourself at home.
How many wives and children does the chief have?
(TRANSLATION IN DIALECT)
- Two wives and ten children. - Wow. That's a handful.
The Dogon culture looks like it hasn't changed for centuries.
Is it changing now the outside world is taking an interest?
Amadou, my guide, translates for the village chief.
''Being cut off for so long,
''we had our own way of looking at the universe.''
Using the carvings on one of his granary doors,
he explains how the Dogon believe the world was created.
''The god Amma first created the sun, moon and stars.
''Then the Earth in the shape of a woman,
''an ant hole for her vagina, a termite mound for her clitoris.
''He tried to make love to her,
''but the termite mound blocked his path, so he removed it.
''He tried again and this time twins were born.
''They were half-man, half-snake and lived in the heavens.
''Amma then made a human couple who had eight ancestors,
''from whom all of us are made.''
I'm trying to get my head round this
when Amadou says the Dogon weren't the first
to colonise the escarpment.
Before them were the Tellem, who lived on the cliff face itself.
(AMADOU) This place become now a tomb.
A grave where they bury the people if someone dies.
- Where, up on the cliff? - Yes, up there.
The Tellem clearly preferred high-rise living,
relying on ropes to get in and out of their homes.
It's incredible people fought to live in such a bleak place,
till you remember that 500 years ago
the area was covered in forest.
An echo of those more fertile times
is the status Dogon society still affords to the hunter.
(GREETING IN DIALECT)
Terrific greeting. You go through the entire family.
You have to ask for everyone, one by one,
since someone once asked, ''How are your donkey?''
It is funny, but this is polite you have to ask everything.
Tell him I don't know any Dogon. I'll just say, ''Ça va?''
What do they hunt here?
Here they hunt monkeys, wild rat and dog.
- Do you eat much meat here? - Oh, yes, yes.
When they hunt and kill animals they eat a lot of meat.
If they don't find animals, they will kill a sheep or goat.
- Rat? Rat tart now and again? - Yes.
They find sometimes rats.
The rats they hunt are up on the rocks,
and the monkeys and the dogs and antelope.
Does he shoot them or...
This is what he has to kill the monkeys.
The monkeys have seen better days.
- This is a monkey's head. - Right. Can he show me?
(SPEAKS IN DIALECT)
- I see...gunpowder...made here? - Yes.
- Local gunpowder. - What is it?
I think it's a....it's a local gunpowder.
Well away from them, well away.
The monkey is cheering up!
- It's OK. - He's OK?
I got the blast right across my face, it's OK.
I know how you feel now!
It worked. I think I preferred it when it wasn't working.
Having survived the hunter,
I now have to survive a lunch of goat, millet and baobab leaf.
OK, so just grab in? Oh, it's hot!
- Hot, yeah, very hot. - Slowly, slowly.
- Hot, very hot. - Mm, yeah.
- You cannot be a strong man... - I'm past all that now!
You have to eat... you have to eat very hot.
- Hot? - Yeah.
The sauce is really good,
but it's very hot on the ends of the fingers.
I don't know how they can eat it!
Tender, artistic little digits!
It's not just the food itself that's hot,
it's the temperature outside, 56 centigrade at midday.
That's 134 Fahrenheit.
It's the hottest meal of my life.
The straw-capped granaries that dot the village
contain the millet on which Dogon diet depends.
Equally important are weapons, door latches
and assorted ironmongery produced by the blacksmith,
with the help of his seven-year-old daughter.
The blacksmith is one of the most important men here.
In Dogon folklore, the first blacksmith
was the man who stole the fire from God.
His duties extend beyond simply making things,
as Amadou explains.
So now, another importance of the blacksmith,
they must do the circumcision in the village.
- Circumcision? - Yes, circumcision.
The blacksmith uses his knife to cut the sex of the boys.
The blacksmith actually does the circumcision?
Yes, and the blacksmith's woman does it for the girls.
Is female circumcision still common here?
Yes, they still partake. They do it in every village.
Most girls in this village will have been circumcised?
All of the girls...all of the girls.
the termite mound...
I'm not the first to try to make sense of all this.
There's a joke - how many are there in a Dogon family?
Five. Two parents, two children and one French anthropologist.
In Dogon country, nothing is as you expect it to be.
This manically joyful dance is celebrating a funeral.
It's a cliché to say you've found somewhere
different from the world,
but here in Tirelli in Dogon country, it's absolutely true.
The way of life here and the reason for the way of life
is quite unlike anything I've seen before.
I will never see anywhere like this again.
They've been very, very good friends and very good hosts.
Don't tell anyone.
The ancient town of Djenne,
circled by the waters of the Bani River,
is our next stop on the road to Timbuktu.
I've hired a mobilette to drive around
what many consider the most beautiful city of the Sahara.
The mosque at Djenne is an architectural marvel,
the largest mud-built structure in the world.
The streets are fine examples
of mud as an art form, graceful and stylish -
qualities in Mali which are not confined to the buildings.
(GENTLE MELODIC SONG)
Djenne doubles its size on market days.
I'm shown around by Amadou Cisse,
known to the world as Pygmy.
- What people are you from? - Fulani.
- Half Fulani. - What's the other half?
The other half? Sonderai...
- Oh, the Sonderai Empire. - Yeah.
- I remember that. - Yeah.
(SPEAK LOCAL DIALECT)
You know an awful lot... you know a lot of ladies.
It's my city. It's OK to know them.
Are the women in Mali quite friendly and open?
They don't mind you saying hello even though you are married?
No. It's OK. I've known them since I was young, it's my city.
I heard you met your wife in the market. Is that true?
I met...yeah, I met her on the market.
If you want for the first time...she's Fulani.
- And you're Fulani. - Yes, but...
for me it wasn't necessary to be Fulani or not.
For me she was... she was very nice for me.
Every time I come she'd bring milkshake for me, she sell milk.
For me every time when she come, I see her, she was pretty,
young, nice and for me,
I was always happy to be with her.
At first I only went to buy milk. I was like...
You only went to buy milk, you were a customer, a punter.
Getting a pint of milk and you fell in love!
What's special about Fulani women
that makes them so distinctive?
Can you tell a Fulani women here?
OK, she's a Fulani woman. OK, she's a Fulani girl.
This one is the cousin of my wife.
Right, cousin of your wife.
Just happened to find her here.
You see around the mouth?
That's a tattoo and that's a family sign on her face.
- Those marks there? - Yeah.
(SPEAK IN DIALECT)
Family problems, family problems.
- Family problems, yes. - We don't need to know.
I feel that Pygmy is the man to enlighten me
on the question that's been on my mind since we left Dakar.
Sheep! Sheep everywhere, all the way through Mali.
What's it about? What's the reason?
It will be like Tabaski...
Tabaski is a major Islamic festival
in which the head of the household sacrifices a sheep.
It commemorates the time God spared Isaac, son of Abraham,
an event common to Muslim, Jew and Christian.
Are only male sheep killed?
The sheep are all to be complete.
But they're all men, not females?
Men, men, not females.
- All to be men. - And complete, meaning what?
Not with one eyes or one legs, something like that.
Pygmy's left it late - like turkeys the day before Christmas,
it's a sellers' market.
(HAGGLES IN DIALECT)
He says 40,000 and... I need to discuss.
£40. You haggle down a bit? What's it down to?
But you're dealing with two-three people.
This man is the manager who knows the best sheep.
I think he gets something from the owner, he says I should pay!
He gets a bit of a bung, trousers a few!
Doesn't happen like this at Sainsburys!
OK. You get the boys to take it back for you?
Always when you buy a sheep...
(SPEAKS IN DIALECT)
Malian women always look sensational,
but for Tabaski they make a special effort.
At Pygmy's house, the wife he met over milkshakes
is having her feet hennaed by an older woman,
who suggests there was more to the relationship than buying milk.
(SPEAKS IN DIALECT)
I think there is a much more interesting side to this story.
- You know what she said? - What, tell me?
If you fall in love with a girl
and you try one time and it's nice,
you can't live very long, you will follow her everywhere.
It's not true.
For a Malian man and woman, before you get married,
are you allowed to have time together, can you...
- sleep together? - Me, her,
since the day I get married I never knew her before.
Like loving or sleep together, I never do that before.
I never do that, never.
But for the villages people, it was strange,
because they don't believe I never make love.
I like Pygmy and that he overcame his parents' objections
to marry the woman he wanted.
On Tabaski morning, the mosque isn't big enough for everyone
and they gather to worship on open ground at the edge of town.
What actually happens now at this ceremony?
Normally we would pray during the daytime.
Normally we would pray after lunch and on the afternoon.
Because this is a special ceremony,
people will pray around 9 and 10 o'clock, as it is special to us.
First the imam will make the sacrifice, kill his sheep,
in front of the religious,
then people go home to make the same thing,
to kill a living sacrifice.
The sheep's looking nervous,
like an actor on his first night...and last night!
the sheep's taken to the imam to be slaughtered.
Once he's made his sacrifice, everyone goes home to celebrate.
(SPEAK IN DIALECT)
- Should I? What's the greeting? - Sambé, sambé.
(SPEAK IN DIALECT)
- Sambé, sambé. - It's good.
It's getting better. I know two words... no, one word twice.
Sambé, sambé. It's good that you do.
As we approach his house, I sense for the first time
Pygmy's ebullience is beginning to fade
as the moment comes for him to do his duty.
One sheep has already been dispatched by his father,
now it's Pygmy's turn.
As Auntie looks sternly on, he's instructed in the importance
of a swift, humane technique.
The important thing is the cut must be clean
and the sheep mustn't suffer.
The blood flows out into the gutters,
the knife is washed, and within half an hour
everything that can be eaten is ready for the pot.
In the finest traditions of African and Muslim hospitality,
I'm asked to share the feast with them.
(PYGMY) He's never on time to eat.
(MICHAEL) It's all gone! Prèsque fini!
Thank you. Thank you. Mm, well...
You say...you give thanks? Mustn't eat with the wrong hand!
Never eat with the left hand.
I know. Terrible gaffe!
- They laugh because you're... - I know, I'm not used to it.
You've got to try something new.
Find out how... how people...how people live.
- Is all of the sheep eaten? - No.
We eat a part of the sheep then we give it to poor people.
We distribute it out amongst them.
The boys of the village get the testicles, do they?
Yeah... That's the good luck. To make them clever.
Djenne's days of greatness ended when the River Bani silted up
and trade moved to the nearby port of Mopti.
It's to Mopti I've come, to look for the Timbuktu ferry.
The harbour's full of people but worryingly low on water,
leaving raw sewage exposed on the banks.
No one but me is worried.
Squalor and beauty co-exist happily on the Mopti waterfront.
I'm relieved to find the Timbuktu ferries are in port,
but they're not exactly waiting for the starting gun.
When I eventually find one of the pilots, I get a shock.
- Bonjour. - Bonjour.
Quand est le prochain bateau pour Timbuktu, s'il vous plaît?
- Juillet. - Juillet? Juillet?!
Alors. Juillet. Mars, Juin...that's three months!
- Trois mois? - Oui.
C'est fini? Á ce moment les bateaux pas marche?
- Pourquoi? - Pas assez de l'eau.
Ah, pas de l'eau - not enough water. Fair enough.
The river isn't deep enough this time of year for the steamboats.
I'll have to look for an alternative.
Bonjour, bonjour. Je cherche une pinasse pour Timbuktu.
The harbour master is sympathetic
and appreciates I can't hang around for three months.
He asks the captains of the wood-hulled cargo boats -
After some negotiation, he finds one that will take us -
the Pagou Manpagu. It leaves tomorrow.
Day of departure. Time for Englishman in silly hat
to take on last-minute provisions.
Combien? Cent? Oui. Trois cents.
Trois cents, c'est très cher, n'est-ce-pas?
Très belle. Merci, merci.
Look, we have some bananas.
The river is busy.
It looks as though we'll be leaving in rush hour.
I squelch through the mud and filth for I hope the last time
and sling my bag on deck.
Unfortunately, there is no deck, just an open hull below
and a small farm up on the bridge.
There's no denying the sense of anticipation as we get underway,
past my stranded ferry boat
and out to join the Sahara's most famous river.
I am now at last on the Niger River, which runs in a curve
from the hills of Djenne out to the desert and back to Nigeria.
About 200 years ago, no westerner had really seen it.
Suddenly, they decided they had to find out
about this part of Africa and the wealth carried on the river.
This man, Mungo Park,
who left behind his ''Travels into the Interior of Africa'',
was the first westerner to see this river, in 1796.
Then the race was on to try to get to Timbuktu,
the famous legendary city on the river.
Mungo Park never made it there but others did.
I hope we will, if the wind doesn't strengthen any more.
There is no restaurant on board but food is always available
from the kitchen, which is... well...just about anywhere.
At one stop, Kristin, a Norwegian, comes aboard.
She's been living in Mali for several years,
studying Fulani women and their customs.
I've heard that male and female circumcision still goes on.
Is that true in your experience in this society?
It is very hard to resist and fight against circumcision.
To be a woman here you should be circumcised.
Do you...the European view would be it's barbaric and cruel
and...ruins the pleasure of sex for women and all that.
Do you think that's true? It doesn't sound like it.
What is sexual pleasure here and in Europe
is quite different.
We have a way of thinking that sexual pleasure is impossible
for a woman who has been circumcised.
I don't share that opinion.
What a man finds attractive in Africa
does not correspond with what is attracting a man in Europe.
In Europe a woman should be skinny,
but here they should be fat.
- Yes, I've noticed. - That is very contradictory.
She's also a part-time Christian missionary,
not an easy thing to be in a Muslim country.
Isn't it hard to convert a Muslim to Christianity?
I have never considered
evangelism or the biblical message
What is the heart...the most important is to love each other,
so if people see me and see me acting,
and are asking me questions, I will to respond to them.
If we go into a dialogue, we'll be fine.
- I think we've run aground. - Run aground.
This is the hazard of going up the Niger River.
It looks very wide but it is very shallow.
Exceedingly shallow at this point, don't you think?
Obviously hit a sandbank.
- It's very common. - Is it?
So they're going to push us off with those big poles.
- Do you travel the Niger a lot? - Yes.
I love it. It gives me a great satisfaction.
- It's so quarm. - Calm?
- Calm. - Very tranquil at the moment!
As the mighty River Niger is revealed as barely waist deep,
there's not much to do but find out more about each other.
Have you any idea of the number of converts to Protestantism?
I know...that there are people who have been converted.
- From Islam... - From Islam to Christianity.
We have been working in Mali for 15 years,
just to...determini...what do you call it?
- Determine. - Determine the number.
It's unproper, I don't think...
It's not a good question.
It's not what it is about at all.
The numbers. Even though it was 100 or 1,000 or even one.
It is the same thing.
The most important is to be present, and to act in society,
to get people to see what we are doing.
I don't count in souls or converts.
..roughly, whether you knew
if it was thousands, hundreds or ones and twos.
Then I can say a number of people have converted in Mali.
But I don't know the numbers and you're not telling me.
I think it's a ridiculous question.
After another day and a half on the river I'll ask you again.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Kristin jumped ship
to avoid more questions
and goes ashore on a local fishing boat.
It's probably just as well, as there's only one hammock.
That's about 6.35, night falling over Africa,
and we're still on the same sandbank, we're stuck on it,
from when I was talking to Kristin. So...um...
I don't know how long it's going to be,
but it's very comfortable in hammock class.
No one ever said getting to Timbuktu would be easy.
What more can an Englishman do
but lie back and think of Africa?
SNL Best Of Eddie Murphy 1998
S Diary 2004
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep1
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep2
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep3
Sahara (with Michael Palin) ep4
Sahara (with Michael Palin) video diary bonus
Sahara interview with Michael Palin
Salaam Bombay CD1
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Salaam Cinema 1995
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Salesman - Albert and David Maysles (1969)
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Samurai - Miyamoto Musashi - 03 - Duel at Ganryu Island
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Samurai Assassin 1965
Sanbiki No Samurai 1964
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Sands of Iwo Jima
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Satans Brew 1976
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Say It Isnt So 2001
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Sex and Zen
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Sherlock Holmes Returns
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Shes All That
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Shield The 2x01 - The Quick Fix
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Shijushichinin No Shikaku (1994 aka 47 Ronin)
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Show Me Love
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Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th
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Simpsons 01x12 - Krusty Gets Busted
Simpsons 01x13 - Some Enchanted Evening
Simpsons The 05x01 - Homers Barbershop Quartet
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Simpsons The 05x14 - Lisa Vs Malibu Stacy
Simpsons The 05x15 - Deep Space Homer
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Simpsons The 05x17 - Bart Gets An Elephant
Simpsons The 05x18 - Burns Heir
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Sin noticias de Dios
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Since Otar Left 2003
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Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine
Singin in the Rain
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Sink The Bismarck
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Six Days Seven Nights
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Six Feet Under
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Slap Shot 2
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Sleepless in Seattle
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Sliding Doors 1992
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Small Change (FranÇois Truffaut 1976)
Small Time Crooks 2000
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Soldiers Story A (Norman Jewison 1984)
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Something The Lord Made CD1
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Son In Law
Song of the South
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Soylent Green 1973
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Spark the Lighter
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Spartacus Fixed 1960
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Spawn (Directors Cut)
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Speed 2 - Cruise Control
Spellbound (Hitchcock 1945)
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Spies Like Us 1985
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Spongebob Squarepants The Movie
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Stage Fright 1950
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Stargate SG1 1x01 Children of the Gods
Stargate SG1 1x02 The enemy Within
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Stargate SG1 1x06 Cold Lazarus
Stargate SG1 1x07 The Nox
Stargate SG1 1x08 Brief Candle
Stargate SG1 1x09 Thors Hammer
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Stargate SG1 1x11 Bloodlines
Stargate SG1 1x12 Fire and Water
Stargate SG1 1x13 Hathor
Stargate SG1 1x14 Singularity
Stargate SG1 1x15 The Cor AI
Stargate SG1 1x16 Enigma
Stargate SG1 1x17 Solitudes
Stargate SG1 1x18 Tin Man
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Stargate SG1 1x21 Within the Serpents Grasp
Stargate SG1 2x01 The serpents lair
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Stargate SG1 2x03 Prisoners
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Stargate SG1 2x11 The tokra part 1
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Stargate SG1 2x21 1969
Stargate SG1 3x01 Into The Fire II
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Stargate SG1 3x03 Fair Game
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Stargate SG1 3x21 Crystal Skull
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Stargate SG1 4x01 Small Victories
Stargate SG1 4x02 The Other Side
Stargate SG1 4x03 Upgrades
Stargate SG1 4x04 Crossroads
Stargate SG1 4x05 Divide And Conquer
Stargate SG1 4x06 Window Of Opportunity
Stargate SG1 4x07 Watergate
Stargate SG1 4x08 The First Ones
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Stargate SG1 4x11 Point Of No Return
Stargate SG1 4x12 Tangent
Stargate SG1 4x13 The Curse
Stargate SG1 4x14 The Serpents Venom
Stargate SG1 4x15 Chain Reaction
Stargate SG1 4x16 2010
Stargate SG1 4x17 Absolute Power
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Stargate SG1 5x01 Enemies
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Stargate SG1 5x04 Fifth Man
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Stargate SG1 5x08 The Tomb
Stargate SG1 5x09 Between Two Fires
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Stargate SG1 5x13 Proving Ground
Stargate SG1 5x14 48 Hours
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Stargate SG1 5x17 Failsafe
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Stargate SG1 5x22 Revelations
Stargate SG1 6x01 Redemption Part 1
Stargate SG1 6x02 Redemption Part 2
Stargate SG1 6x03 Descent
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Stargate SG1 6x06 Abyss
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Stargate SG1 6x09 Allegiance
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Stargate SG1 7x01 Fallen
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Stargate SG1 7x07 Enemy Mine
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Stargate SG1 7x11 Evolution I
Stargate SG1 7x12 Evolution II
Stargate SG1 7x13 Grace
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Stargate SG1 7x17 Heroes I
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Starship Troopers (Special Edition)
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Story Of A Kiss
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