On the third day we have measured the depth of the well. Mamutu had done this already the day before, and all the workers knew that they had earned the premium of 20 000 Francs.
Instead, it is not like that at all.Â Eighty centimeters are still missing to obtainÂ five meters of water. The divers have been digging since yesterday without adding an inch to the depth of the well. This is because every time we use the pump to empty the well ofÂ the two meters of excess water, the sand enters with the pressure. We should work with divers equipment but there is not such aÂ thing here.
All the sand we are extracting could destabilize the bottom of the well and the great quantity of water that enters from all the holes of our cylinders hinders the work.Â We evaluated the situation with Ibrahim and decided to stop here.
The water is so plentiful that weÂ cannot empty it with justÂ the pump, the well had been constructed wrongly from the beginning, going aheadÂ digging is dangerous.
We have reachedÂ an optimum result even if it is not the one specified on the contract.
WeÂ then have filled the bottom of the well with filtering gravel to stop the sand coming up, and weÂ have deposited the bottom perforated tap.
In 2 days of intensive work we have demolished, rebuild the superior part of the well and installed a modern superstructure to pull out the water with much less effort.
Because the well produces much water, Ibrahim has installed all around the well a large cement bottom to prevent spilled waterÂ going back downÂ to the earth along the wellâs body. The spilled waterÂ would infiltrate and make the well crumble down after some years.
When the Tuaregs have tried the system invented by Ibrahim, with wheels fitted with Mercedes bearings, they have been enthusiastic. The wheels are expensive to produce, we have onlyÂ three of them for theÂ three sides of the superstructure. We gave one to the âkingâ, one to his nephew who has worked so hard with us until the end, and one to my old friend Ismail.
Mamutu the Dogon shows to Abu Bakr the Tuareg how they pull water in Dogon country
The blend of technology and archaic tradition is very photogenic.
We have installed a system that permits the Tuaregs to send the water for the animals in a tank at 12 meters distance without transporting it by hand, with underground tubes that make 2 basins connect.
I have given to the well his name: Bir Amin, which means âTrusted wellâ in Arabic, and I wrote the name in the fresh cement.
Before leaving I called the workers and told them: You are the five-strong ones, you have resisted all the trials for forty five days and you did not abandon. You deserve a premium for your steadfastness. A premium of 20,000 Francs.
They named themselves âThe magnificent fiveâ. TheÂ three musketeersÂ are four, our five magnificent are six because Abu Bakr, the nephew of the Tuareg chief, although he is working freely on the wellÂ at his own property, has workedÂ also from the beginning to the end of this enterprise. This is why I gave the same premiumÂ also to him.
The team of “the five magnificent”. Abu Bakr is at left