Sanké mon, collective fishing rite of the Sanké

Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© 2009 by DNPC
The Sanké mon collective fishing rite takes place in San in the Ségou region of Mali every second Thursday of the seventh lunar month to commemorate the founding of the town. The rite begins with the sacrifice of roosters, goats and offerings made by village residents to the water spirits of the Sanké pond. The collective fishing then takes place over fifteen hours using large and small mesh fishing nets. It is immediately followed by a masked dance on the public square featuring Buwa dancers from San and neighbouring villages who wear traditional costumes and hats decorated with cowrie shells and feathers and perform specific choreography to the rhythms of a variety of drums. Traditionally, the Sanké mon rite marks the beginning of the rainy season. It is also is an expression of local culture through arts and crafts, knowledge and know-how in the fields of fisheries and water resources. It reinforces collective values of social cohesion, solidarity and peace between local communities. In recent years, the rite has seen a decrease in popularity that threatens to endanger its existence, contributory factors including ignorance of the event’s history and importance, a gradual decrease in attendance, occasional accidents during the event itself and the degradation of the Sanké lake due to poor rainfall and the effects of urban development.