The Brides of Mopti

The Niger River runs 4000 kilometers through Western Africa. Its existence was known to the Romans, although few people were aware of its source. Mungo Park explored the Mali interior finding death beyond the relative safety of Timbucktoo. It was a common end for most European seeking the shrink the expanse of ‘terra incognita’ on the Dark Continent.

The French came, saw, and went to Mali. They left the land of the Strong Brown God in 1960 and the nation of Mali returned to obscurity. The BBC News resurrected the world’s attention to this distant land with a reportage of brothel towns along the Niger River, where thousands of Nigerian women have been enslaved in whorehouses to serve Muslim men unable to afford multiple wives.

Foreign travelers first saw this rampant sex trade in cities such as Mopti.

One traveler said, “I fired our first travel guide in a dark and dirty brothel in Mopti. The brothel was the cheaper of the two ‘hotels’ and served cold beer when the electricity was working, but was primitive, squalid, and full of noisy drunks.”

Obviously a no star hotel.

And neither was The Hotel Bar Mali.

“A marvelous place to luxuriate in squalor. For the squeamish, it was indubitably a mirror on hell, a place where six of the seven deadly sins were practiced continually, or more accurately, continuously, since there was no significant interval in the on and off of coitus uninterreptus and other frenzied debauch.”

Any town that far from sanity will attract the scum of the Earth.

Mopti, for far from heaven, so close to hell.

This photo was not from National Geographic photo shoot.


  1. Posted May 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    For how long has this been going on and how extensive is it in Mopti? I spent a fair amount of time there in 2004 and was never aware of anything like it. I did come across some shady and dirty-looking bars and hotels, but never went into these. Various touts in Mopti tried to sell me everything from Dogon tours to hashish, but none ever suggested bringing me to a brothel. In a small village outside of Mali, reachable only by boat, I came across one 14-year-old girl who, quite incongruously, often wore nothing above her waist. I was told she was being offered by her family for marriage, in return for what in Mali was a large sum, but there was no mention of prostitution.

  2. Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    here’s a youtube link on Mopti

    also a story from the BBC

    The situation exploded with the expansion of the mines surrounding mopti

    mines, men, money = mopti’s present situation.

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