Monday, September 12, 2011

There are Bad Times just around the Corner, and the Outlook is absolutely Vile!

Yes, indeed.
These Noel Coward lyrics had been twirling around in my head, inexplicably, but as it happens prophetically, since last week. I just hummed along merrily to the happy tune. But now I understand:
I am resurfacing from a couple of days of malaria attack as I write this, but that is only a small part of it all.
There are some problems with the library project. The Library Committee are not, as one might easily have imagined, happy that the project that I have worked on for 3 years has now finally come to fruition and that work is about to start, no, they are furious.
They wanted the 40 000 000 FCFA to arrive to the account of the Library itself, to be distributed as they feel fit. This is of course not the idea of the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, who are the sponsors, and who have put me in charge of the project. I have always communicated everything to Hasseye Traore, the President of the Library, who in his turn should have made sure he informed the rest.
Tomorrow we have to have a meeting of the Library Committee at the Library about the ordering of three tables and the installation of an air conditioner in the new workroom. I had simply gone ahead and got a quote from the carpenter the library normally uses. It seemed fine to me and it was within the budget so I was about to go ahead. But NO! Big Crisis Erupts. How dare I go behind their backs to order tables (for which I will pay, and which they will later keep) for the project workroom without consulting them!
I have now decided to go along sweetly and diplomatically and ask them to help me with the ordering of the tables. It is not important after all. But it will become impossible if they insist on having Committee meetings every time something happens!

But this is not all. There is a much more difficult matter. To explain this problem we will have to go back in history. It concerns the beginning of the Manuscript Library, when I was not even here.

I have decided for security reasons not to go into the details of this matter publicly just at the moment, as it may compromise or even jeopardize the project.

Let us just say that it is a problem on a ministerial level. There appears to be a faction in the town of Djenne, led by a powerful personnage, that is trying to put a stop to the project, for reasons over which we can only speculate.
The Prefect has been told to sort the matter out and meanwhile we have the permission to go ahead and work on the project, although we cannot have the planned televised opening ceremony.

It doesn’t matter to me if we can’t have this opening ceremony. It will cost a lot of money and we have lost a lot on bad exchange rates, so it will actually be a relief. As long as we can carry on with the project I am satisfied. Unfortunately the project itself: these manuscripts, the core of the work we want to do and its value for the town of Djenne seems to be of minor importance to some people here.

Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Misory’s on the way!


Blogger David said...

Nightmare! Bureaucracy, it seems, is the same the world over (though worse in some places than others). Don't you ever feel the old saw 'no good deed goes unpunished'? But don't let it dent your dynamic optimism...


11:23 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

thank you for your support and vote of confidence! I am just about to pen an instalment which puts a slihtly different light on things...

2:58 PM  

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