Meanwhile, Tabaski frenzy grips Mali.
This most important Muslim holiday of the year looms in less than a week- next Friday to be precise.
Every self respecting Malian father must provide his family with a ram that he will slaughter himself on Tabaski morning. A ram costs between 30 000 and 300 000 francs CFA and the size of the animal is related to the perceived social position of the paterfamilias
in question, rather than the amount he can afford. A Malian father would rather indebt himself than bring a smaller sheep than normal. This year no one has any money in Djenne. It is Djenne market day tomorrow, the last one before Tabaski. It will be full of people who will all somehow have found the necessary money- a huge amount. A Djenne day labourer earns 1000 francs a day.
We decided to continue our lottery tradition this year too, in the face of penury. The hotel gives one sheep to the person who has worked hardest, or tried hardest. There is also a lottery for a sheep- this time the MaliMali studio was also invited to take part, so 13 people pulled their pieces of paper out of my hat, and the lucky winner pulled the piece with my drawing of a sheep’s head.
This year Kassim, above, our night watchman won the lottery. I was very pleased for him- he is a nice man who would have found it difficult to find enough money for a sheep, certainly.
To the right in the back ground you see the sheep that Maman was given- more for his good intentions and his willingness to try than for his brilliance...Maman is/was our barman and he is now in charge of stock and ordering at the MaliMali studio.
And finally, the most important news is of course that the UN Security Council has voted unanimously to give the go ahead for military action by Malian forces with the assistance of the ECOWAS, if a feasible military plan can be drawn up in 45 days- or about 40 now.