|Songhai stitched boat. Bow is to the left. (Click any image to enlarge.)|
|A Songhai boat being built or repaired.|
The boats were used for fishing and general transport, but around the city of Gao their primary use was the transportation of rice from the paddies to the villages for threshing. Propulsion was by both paddle and pole, depending upon the river's depth.
|Stitching detail, with grass caulking captured between the stitches.|
West of Lake Debo and south of Ansongo, a different kind of sewn boat was used. Called the Kole-Kole, this boat was two half-dugouts, sewn together along a central seam. This boat was preferred in its indigenous regions due to the presence of suitable trees for this type of construction.
All information and images are from "A note on a sewn canoe in use at Gao, the Republic of Mali," by Timothy Insoll, in The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (1993) 22.4: 345-350. This information is now two decades old, and I do not know if these boats are still in use.