Tuesday, April 01, 2008

On a more positive note, there is an interesting part of the library which does have potential. There are quite a number of manuscripts here, donated by Djenne families. Some of these are up to four hundred years old and relate to the history of individual families and also of the town of Djenne. There is also some personal correspondence from about a hundred years ago.
The problem is that no one is allowed to look at these papers, and no translation has been possible, because there has been no copying and the papers are too fragile to be handled. The library needs a photo copier able to cope with conservation work. Somewhere deep inside me stirs the researcher who was spending happy months in the Public Record Office at Kew, or, as I peferred to call it, at the rock face, immersed in eighteenth century probate inventories. Who knows what marvellous stories lie buried in this library waiting to be found?

Anyway, I digress, let’s return to the little teenage rebel.
The mind of a fourteen year old girl is unbelievably uninteresting I found out. And I know it so well, because I was exactly the same. I took her to the Campement for a Coke after our town visit. She is normally banned from the Campement for pestering tourists, but being with me gave her special dispensation.
Fatumata has picked up some bad habits and her manner is coarse and what might be cute in a fourteen year old will very soon turn into the vulgarity of a common street walker. I spent all day telling her to pull her skirt down, not to laugh like a drain and not to smile at strange men.
Will this arrangement work? How much am I going to be able to invest in this? If she wants to hang around with tourists, can I really stop her? What is it to me if she ruins her life? Have I got it in me to be a Henry Higgins?


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