Local traditions and culture in Mali

  • Local Customs
    by hannette
  • Local Customs
    by hannette
  • Local Customs
    by hannette

Most Viewed Local Customs in Mali

  • hannette's Profile Photo

    Participate in a marriage

    by hannette Updated Jun 11, 2013

    Sunday usually is the day marriages are being celebrated . (Hence the famous song by Amadou & Mariam 'Les Dimanches à Bamako, c' est le jour du marriage).
    If possible try to join such a celebration.... You'll experience the enthusiasm and exuberance of traditional West-African life!

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    Use your right hand

    by Pieter11 Written Sep 26, 2012

    Like in many other countries all over the world, eating with you left hand is not accepted in Mali. Very often when you're eating local food in Mali there are no knife and fork or spoon around to eat with, so people often eat with their hands. And since the left hand is considered the "unclean" hand people only eat with right.

    Of course, if you eat with knife and fork this is not a problem, though the hand that brings the food to your mouth is best to be the right one, even if you eat with a fork.

    Besides the eating part, also when you give things it's best to use your right hand. For example: when you give money, but also when you get back the change.

    Eat your food with your right hand All right hands...
    Related to:
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • ZeekLTK's Profile Photo

    Have some tea!

    by ZeekLTK Updated Sep 29, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Malians love their tea! No matter where you are in the country, you'll always come across someone boiling a fresh pot. It's considered a great gesture of friendship to offer tea to visitors, and it's also considered quite rude to decline such an offer!

    The cups are generally very small, about the size of a shot glass, so even if it's not your "cup of tea" to have this type of drink, be polite and drink it anyways. Especially if you plan to spend a decent amount of time with the person who offered it.

    Be careful though, because it's always freshly made, which means it can sometimes be very hot!

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Soap Operas :-((

    by Elisabcn Updated Aug 18, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In Mali if you go to lunch in a restaurant at telenovelas' time (soap operas time) you are lost!!!
    Mexican and Venezuelan telenovelas have invaded Africa too. In Mali people see these telenovelas translated into French and they are very popular, even between men. So if you want to have lunch at telenovelas' time you'll have to wait until the break, like it happened to us :-((

    waiters watching telenovelas
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Local masked dances

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 17, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This could be considered as a tourist trap as well. During your excursion to the Dogon country it will be almost impossible to avoid them. They tell you how lucky you are because these dances are rare to see and oops! just that day there is I don’t know which important event and there will be a performance! The truth is that they do these performances every day as soon as they see a group of tourists arriving to the village. And they make you pay the performance very expensive! Ok I payed just to get them to be quiet but I was not interested in it and I preferred to go around the village to take some pictures. But dances were so long that I took all the possible pictures about the village and I still had enough time to see half of the performance :-)). Luckily I sat next to our guide and he explained me the meaning of the different “scenes”, otherwise it should have been very boring!
    Nice colors

    Picture 3: the man dressed in blue marks the step. All the warriors have to follow him
    Picture 4: warriors fight, not very comfortable!!
    Picture 5: they want to kill the warlok :-((. But after that this same person sits in front of the warlok to play with him. Mah!

    masked dance getting ready follow the leader warriors fight he wants to kill the warlok :-((

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Other constructions

    by Elisabcn Written Apr 16, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In small villages it will happen to you to see this kind of constructions
    (picture 1). They are, together with mud huts and mud granaries, very common in Mali. There are good to protect yourself from the sun but there are used as stalls. The village’s local markets are basically a group of these stalls. Leaving Mopti direction to Timbuktu we found another kind of constructions (huts), very different with regard to the first ones
    (picture 2). Even the granaries are different, completely made of straw (picture 3). Maybe they belong to a different tribe.

    stalls different houses granaries

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Local fabrics

    by Elisabcn Written Apr 16, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    These fabrics form part of Malian clothes. They are made of natural materials and decorated using natural dyes. We are not talking about simple accessories, something to put some color to their dresses. From these fabrics (the designs, colors, materials) you can understand lots of things about the owner like his tribe, social status and even if he is married or not. The picture shows some fabrics waiting to be sold.

    all for sale

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Granaries

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 16, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I found these constructions very nice, as they look like the smurfs’ huts. Made of mud and slightly elevated from the land by a wooden structure to avoid humidities, each hut corresponds to a family. Sometimes, if the family have more ressources, the man has his own granary and the woman has another one (usually bigger!). Women introduce the grain after the harvest through the roof. The wooden sticks on the wall are used not only to keep the consistence of the mud architecture but also as a ladder. Then, when the family needs the grain, it is taken out by a child who introduces himself in the hut through the small window. Don’t you believe me? Look at the second and third pictures!
    You can find these granaries everywhere in the country

    typical granaries taking out the grain hello!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Natural elegance

    by Elisabcn Written Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Women in Mali are very elegant! And it is not a matter of a good dress or nice accessories; I am talking about a natural elegance. You can see a girl or a lady dressed with very poor clothes but she behaves and walks as if she was the star model in a fashion show. La classe!!

    natural elegance natural elegance

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Baobab tree

    by Elisabcn Written Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The baobab tree ("Adansonia digitata") is very typical in this area. Also known as the upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) it is very spectacular and some of them can reach 25 m high. Its fruit is called “pain de singe” (monkey’s bread) and its taste is not very different from cola, with a final acid taste. I have read that some baobab trees are more than 4000 years old!

    baobab tree

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Cola

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I don't know how to describe this: it's a kind of fruit with a final acid taste that it seems to have the same effect than our cola: if you eat it you cannot sleep at night.
    Following the advice of our Dogon guide we bought a bag full of cola before starting our trip to Dogon Country. Foreigners use to offer cola to old Dogon people when they arrive to their village as a sign of respect.

    offering cola
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Adventure Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Local food

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you wander around the markets in Mali, you'll see lots of stalls with a kind of dried fish (picture 1). This is a very popular dish in Mali. You can also find some fruits like small bananas and big watermelons (picture 2)

    dried fish big watermelons
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Adventure Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Pinasses

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pinasses are the traditional boats in Mali and they are the main transport on the Niger River. Pinasses are made of wood and they put black tar on it in order to be waterproof. Local people use paddles to sail; tourist pinasses are covered with a roof and they have engine.
    We used pinasses to do short excursions and visit traditional villages around Mopti but it's also possible to use it for long excursions, like the 3days trip in pinasse to Tombouctou

    small pinasse

    Was this review helpful?

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo

    Wedding!

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 15, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When we were in Segou we were lucky enough to see a Wedding! Very nice, it seemed that all the city was invited to the event!!! Of course people were wearing their best clothes (picture 2) . . . weddings are always very important in the community!!! On the picture you can see the most expected moment: the just married couple going out of the church :-)

    just married! (pic taken by ramon) women on their best clothes

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ariannrhod's Profile Photo

    Ramadan!!!!!!!!

    by Ariannrhod Written May 4, 2005

    Although we are not Muslim-Mali is,
    and we celebrated along with the population at this local party where of course we we’re the only ones drinking!!!! We danced till the early hours of the morning, from reggae to rap to traditional African music, letting go was a blessing that night:)
    from left to right is Tina, Jonathan, Crelene and her African man Vieux and then there's Alessane, and me!

    Was this review helpful?

Mali Hotels

See all 15 Hotels in Mali
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Bamako

    ACI 2000, Hamdallaye, (formerly Radisson SAS), Bamako, 2566, Mali

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • Hotel Mirabeau

    Quartier du fleuve - rue 311, Bamako, BP E 3506, Mali

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Laico l'Amitie Hotel

    Now Libyan owned and abandoned by the Sofitel hotel chain, the lobby in the late afternoon and...

    more

Top Mali Hotels

Bamako Hotels
99 Reviews - 162 Photos
Bandiagara Hotels
41 Reviews - 122 Photos
Timbuktu Hotels
95 Reviews - 400 Photos
Selingue Hotels
3 Reviews - 17 Photos
Segou Hotels
18 Reviews - 75 Photos
Mopti Hotels
29 Reviews - 104 Photos
Kita Hotels
2 Reviews - 1 Photo
Faladie Hotels
See nearby hotels
Djenne Hotels
75 Reviews - 210 Photos

Instant Answers: Mali

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

75 travelers online now

Comments

Mali Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Mali local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Mali sightseeing.
Map of Mali