Friday, July 10, 2009


I left in the company of Keita’s big sister Djenneba (see above, with her pal Mai nestling in her lap)
Djenneba is a very popular woman, involved in millions of things, one of which is an Association to do with health care. I made a snap decision to send off Marriatt from Djenne with some MaliMali garments and other products to show in the ‘people’s market’, a display area for various producers. We were to meet up in Bandiagara later that day.
But that turned out to be wishful thinking as I waited with Djenneba and several hundreds of others in Bamako to form the convoy which was supposed to leave Bamako at six am but which finally got on the road at 3pm... We were waiting for contingents arriving from various other countries, such as the busloads of big jolly women arriving from Guinea Conacry, who, when they got off the bus all shouted in unison with their Bamako sisters: SO- SO -SO , SOLIDARITE- SOLIDARITE DES FEMMES DU MONDE!
There were also some Bader-Meinhof looking toubabs slouching around, who didn’t deign to say hello, probably because I was wearing a dress with the left over Barack Obama fabric. Oh dear, Quelle faux pas in this revolutionary setting...
However much a hero he might be here to the majority of the population, it was not the done thing to be sporting American-friendly garments. Hmmm, nevermind.
During the long hot day I spoke lengthily with a M. Diarra who has an agricultural produce organisation. He is very anti the idea of writing off third world debt, and believes that it is actually doing harm, removing all responsibility from people. He is in a minority though, to which I also belong.
The revolutionary convoy finally trundled into Bandiagara at 4 am this morning...I slunk off to an air conditioned room at Le Cheval Blanc I am afraid, not possessing what it takes to be a revolutionary...

3 Comments:

Blogger Robin said...

Ah, the Cheval Blanc! We had a nice stay there (in 2003).

If that's the Forum des Peuples in Bandiagara, I am familiar with it ... Two of my colleaugues at Geekcorps Mali were quite active with it (in 2005). I helped translate some articles from French to English for them.

6:52 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Yes, indeed, Robin, it was called that, but Djenneba tells me it changes location and last year it was in Koulikouro, and the year before that in Sikasso?
Yes, The Cheval Blanc is quite a wonderful creation. I was there for the first time, and I do admire it. Quite by accident, its creator the Ialian architect whose name now escapes me was actually there so I was able to congratulate him.

8:55 PM  
Blogger David said...

Oh dear, I have not very nice memories of the Cheval Blanc - chiefly of the indifferent owner and the sullen staff (though the rooms were - interesting - and the garden space nicely planted). That was the one exception to the amazing experience of YOURS, the Maison Rouge in Mopti and La Maison in Timbuktu (plus of course friendly, helpful Ann in Bamako).

Anyway, you're there for more important things than tourism, so no doubt you'll have a better time than we did with the 'Pays Dogon Experience' (like the Cotswolds, at least in terms of being swamped by lovers of the 'picturesque').

7:32 AM  

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