Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mali television is not blessed with the budget enjoyed by, for instance, the BBC. Therefore the programs shown are sometimes lacking in verve, shall we say. They include endless video recordings of various village outings by assorted Malian dignitaries, with one of two things happening:
1. Young maidens of a town/village dance interminably to the music of tamtams before assembled dignitaries. Unkind close-ups reveal bored governors picking their noses.
2. Endless speeches directed to, or given by, the dignitaries in question. Such speeches consist of about 30% preamble, and I don’t mean an introduction to the matter at hand but I mean greetings, listing all dignitaries present by name. Africans are masters of polite form, and invariable begin their speeches something like this:
‘ Monsieur le Gouverneur de la Region de Mopti, Monsieur le Maire de Mopti, Monsieur le Commandant de la Brigade, Madame la Presidente de l’Association de …’, Honorables Membres de l’Association de…’ Chers Amis, Monsieurs Dames, Bonsoir. And that would be a really cut-down version.

So, why am I telling you all this? Because I think tomorrow I may well be featuring in one of these Malian television programs. I am in Sevare, at the Motel Sevare, more precisely, the gardens of which are graced by the sculpture above, a representative example of contemporary Malian public sculpture (eat yer heart out Jeff Koons).
The ‘Jeune Chambre International’, (something like the Lions Club or Rotary I believe, see blog entry about a month ago), are having their annual get-together here, and the Djenne ‘Chapter’ have insisted on bringing their ‘Marraine’(me) along. The disturbing thing is that I have just been told that I am supposed to be made a ‘Senator’ at tonight’s gala dinner. Whatever that might be, it does unfortunately mean I will have to say something, and whatever I will say will probably be broadcast to the entire Malian Nation tomorrow…! So here goes, I will have to practice:
Monsieur le Governeur de la Region de Mopti, Monsieur le Maire de Mopti, Madame la Presidente de………


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