A track across the Atakora Mountains is the access to the mystical and ever-resourceful Tamberma people. For self-defense reasons, these people have been taking refuge for centuries in the heart of the Atakora, a land so difficult to access that they could flee from any kind of invasion or intrusion, especially slave traders coming from Muslim North Africa.
According to specialists, their origins are close to the Dogon people of Mali. They share with them an absolute faith in their own animist traditions. Proof is the presence of big fetishes of a phallic form at the entrance of their houses. Those dwellings, amazingly beautiful, look just like tiny two-storey castles. Some avant-garde architects such as Le Corbusier were amazed by the strength and design of these fortified dwellings. With the permission of the inhabitants, we will go into a house to try to understand their way of living.
We will go for a three-day walk in the hills to discover the remote Tamberma & Somba villages.
Walking in this remarkable region, we will discover some villages in the Atakora Mountains. We will meet the Somba (this word means “nude” in the traditional language), whose traditions have not yet been contaminated by outsiders due to their geographic isolation. In some remote villages people only wear a simple cloth and women are covered with amulets. Similar to the Tamberma architecture, the Somba architecture is characterized by dwellings that resemble a three-story castle. These beautiful fortifications are separated one from the other depending on the ownership of fertile lands.