Bangalore International Centre had arranged a talk on “I will vote for the Good Rains - and other stories from the Land of the Dogons, Mali, West Africa” by Mr. Peeyush Sekhsaria, Architect/ Development Consultant, on Friday, 3rd December, 2010 at 6:30 pm. The talk was followed by a long and interesting interactive session.
Mr. Sekhsaria through the PowerPoint presentation of slides shared with the audience his experiences of Mali where he went in 2002 to build a school for the Dogon village of Beignematou. It is a small village situated on the edge of the "Cliffs of Bandiagara", a UNESCO classified World Heritage Site in the West African Republic of Mali. Also known as the "Land of the Dogons" this region lies south of the Sahara Desert, in a semiarid region called the Sahel, where the sands of the Sahara is never very far away.
The project was to design a school keeping in mind the rich architecture, craft and cultural traditions, at the same time provide a solution to the impersonal and thoughtless modern public buildings coming up in the region. He found a fund of goodwill and affection for everything Indian, including Indian films. His decision to stick to the local architectural patterns and building materials endeared him further to the Dogons.
In 2005, the project was broadened to cover wider environmental aspects as the project implementers realized that the major livelihood threats were insistent desertification, environmental degradation, poverty, malnutrition and migration, amongst others.
Working with the people of Mali, Mr. Sekhsaria discovered that despite their robustness, their laughter, the numerous tourists, their existence is fragile, vulnerable, their environment harsh, their future not so certain. The land of the Dogons and the village of Beignematou became his second home.
It was an informative and enjoyable evening.