Tuesday, August 11, 2009


DUNIA KA GELEN (Life is difficult, Bambara)
The Black Cats are slinking around the hotel again, in powerful destuctive union with the termites which are munching their way through the hotel causing much damage. This time they attacked this picture, a page from Monsieur Daire’s photo album. Monsieur Daire was a teacher in Djenne during the French Colonial rule in the 1930’s. His son visited Djenne Djenno a couple of years ago, then presented me with a scanned version of his father’s photo album. These pictures adorn the walls of the more expensive rooms.
The termites ravage the very fibre and walls of the hotel , while in a parallel even more destuctive Keita’s cancer is silently eating away at his bones.
It is written somewhere that we will not be given trials greater than we can cope with. I feel flattered if that is the case : the powers above seem to have decided I am able to cope with a lot…
But everything develops so fast here that I must first of all give an update on the recent trials involving Keita’s family, because those trials are now over – at least for the moment. The Family, represented by Baji, Keita’s cousin, ‘delivered’ him to me last Friday at my friend Ann’s place in Bamako. He was given 24 hours with me, a decision arrived at by the Family Council who did recognize, finally, that I too have a right to be by his side, since I am also his wife. At the same time Baji explained that they wanted him back again sooner than I had hoped, because they were worried about his state of health and the old Auntie was not at ease until he came back again. I accepted this condition reluctantly, at the same time I considered Keita’s arrival at Ann’s as a not insignificant victory for me in the Titan struggle I had had put up in order to be able to be next to him for a little while.
Keita’ Auntie was right in being worried about him, it transpired. It was not just an infected hand, as I had been led to believe, but also a lack of blood circulation in his shoulders, arms and hands, which had more or less made him lame in his upper limbs. It is not irreversible, and it is getting better, but nevertheless this seems a particularly cruel fate since he was regaining movement in his legs and was even able to walk again, but needed to use his hands and arms to support him.
We had a restful time together : phoned friends ; had take- away Steak au Roquefort from Amandines ; watched movies- Keita saw Pulp Fiction for the first time. But if one area of life is receiving a little respite, seemingly the pressure needs to build up elsewhere…
And those Black Cats are slinking around the Hotel again, as I said, lying in wait for my return to Djenne…
The generator is still not working, even though a Bamako mechanic has now spent nearly a week here giving it first of all a general maintenance ; then arranging for umpteen new parts to be delivered from Bamako, including a new piston. The electrical system has been rewired several times , with the only result that it once again blows up, and yet another delivery has to be made to Bamako for yet another electrical part. This is of course costing a fortune, and at the same time we are losing half our guests at a time when the hotel is more or less fully booked and when we need to recoupe the great expenditure we have had for many reasons – one of them indeed the generator ! But to keep about half the guests without being able to offer electricity is in fact quite a feat. It is amazing that so many decide to stay for what we are still billing as our ‘African Adventure’. Last night and the night before the roof top bar was full of Italians drinking Djenne Djenno cocktails as a treat on the house. The balafonist played and the garden was glittering with lamps.
But this arrangement is of course very difficult to maintain, especially as it is rainy season, and the people who chose to sleep in their mosquito net tents last night had to go to their rooms about 6 am since it started to rain. Then Adama, the night watchman was supposed to remove all the sheets, bogolan blankets, pillows and mosquito net tents from the roof. This he eventually did, but only after the bogolan dye of the blankets had well and truly destroyed all the sheets. The Chinese mosquito net tents recently delivered from Bamako were summarily torn away from the roof and thrown down from the roof top onto the muddy ground in a big heap with the new mattresses. The delicate Chinese mosquiteo net tents were thoroughly ripped apart.
The generator part is now winging its way here, courtesy of Bittar Transport. It will be fitted this afternoon, but the generator will not be operational until we have tested it, and who knows what that will do to it- the last three tests have meant that it has once again blown up …
But to finish on two lighter notes : a nice French couple has just arrived. I have given them the Peul suite and explained the situation to them. They said they would take a trip into town and have a look at the Campement Hotel, which is where they could find an air conditioned room. They came straight back ! I am flattered that they preferred Djenne Djenno even without electricity.
And finally, tomorrow morning is the meeting to arrange the Big Feast for the launch of the Djenne Manuscript project. The feast will take place next Sunday the 16th and already on the Saturday we have Abdel Kader Haidara arriving from Timbuktu .

3 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Just to say nothing other than - our thoughts are with you as always (it must seem especially heartless when you elect to bare your soul on the blog and no messages arrive...I know the feeling, and I don't have to face such problems).

Dxxx

9:03 AM  
Blogger Pilland said...

Your report is very interesting indeed. I invite You to see a great collection of views of borders (riigipiirid) in my Italian-Estonian site http://www.pillandia.blogspot.com
Best wishes from Italy!

5:42 PM  
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