Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Getting to Know Chief Iamory

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Getting to Know Chief Iamory

Article excerpt

Louis Gustave Binger (1856-1936) was a French officer who explored the Niger bend and the hinterland of Cote d'Ivoire in 1887-1889

Thursday 9 February 1887

In the Sudan, the chiefs' power over their subjects is limitless. Since they are to some extent suspicious of any white traveller, when they have not decided in advance to let him through, they never broach a discussion with him.

Here this was not the case, since Iamory would allow me to see him. But would I get permission from him to continue my journey? He had been described to me as a despotic chief who held merchants to ransom and made them endure all imaginable kinds of vexation.

Iamory is a tall fine-looking man who bears some resemblance to our Wolof contacts. Unfortunately he is slightly disfigured by the tattoos of the Mande-Dioula, which consist of three long grooves that run from the temples and the ear and spread out at the comers of the mouth.

When you arrive in a village or come into the presence of a chief of whom you have something to ask, you must take care not to tell him immediately what you want of him. However urgent your mission, you should only talk about it after several interviews. …

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