Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sanogo's Arrest

General Sanogo has been arrested.
There are  plenty of inconsistencies surrounding the treatment of Sanogo. First he is promoted,  in August , quite inexplicably- and quite ridiculously in my view-  from ordinary captain to a four star general. He is also granted a 40 man body guard and other privileges normally accorded  ex-presidents. The suddenly his fortune changes and now he has been arrested.

General Sanogo had been repeatedly  requested to appear at court but had ignored the appeals.
Thereforehe was arrested today and is kept at the Gendarmerie until his trial. The accusations against him are that he carried out, or was accomplice in carrying out unlawful killings in the wake of the coup d’état.
I can understand why he is arrested- noone is above the law and if he is called to appear he should definitely do so. But I am less clear about what he is accused of. Should he not be tried by a military court ? The main accusations against him I believe are about the beret rouges, the soldiers loyal to the deposed president, killed in the counter coup in April 2012. There were also mercenaries from other countries taking part in this counter coup. Quite a number were killed. But however grizzly and unfortunate,  isn’t this how these things work ? If Sanogo’s men had not killed the counter coup participants they would have been killed themselves. Is it really possible to judge this sort of event in a normal court ? By definition, killings in a coup or a counter coup are all unlawful !

I’m no fan of Sanogo particularly. But the treatment he is receiving is very schitzophrenic. Let’s wait and see exactly what the accusations are going to bring up….
Malijet is exploding with commentaries as usual- some congratulating the authorities and others asking why Sanogo is attacked while the ‘real criminals’ are  having their mandates of arrest cancelled while they are left to roam freely around Kidal, still in possession of their guns….

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Local Elections

There are plenty of things going on here for a change- or, as they say in French : Ca Bouge.
For a start: today the Elections legislatives are held all over Mali. This is an event which doesn’t really get me too excited, but thought I’d mention it. The turn-out will be much lower than for the presidential, and I really don’t care who gets in for Djenne, since I am afraid I don’t hold much faith that either of the main candidates will do what they are supposed to do: consult their constituents and report back to them.  BUT, who knows, there is perhaps a growing awareness in people that they have the right to demand this from their MP? Let’s hope so…
The elections have one great benefit for Hotel Djenne Djenno: the International Election Observers  are staying at the hotel and eating here too.  There are two nice young European men staying: one Hungarian and one Romanian, sent here by the European Union.  And then there are two Africans: one from Liberia and one from Sierra Leone.  Keita  giggled about this: ‘ Those two  great bastions of Democracy and Human Rights are overseeing our elections!’ Malians, inspite of their two year crisis, still feel that they lie well over the West African average when it comes to progress, civilization  and democracy…

...and Christian Warfare

There have been other guests here too. Pastor Felix came to see me a couple of days ago and told me he had some friends arriving. These turned out to be four Indonesian born-again Christians on a week’s visit to Mali and on a special mission to Djenne. They went on a guided tour of the town of course, and also went in to the Great Mosque. ‘What did you think of the Mosque?’ I asked. The senior of the two men – an Indonesian Pastor- told me they had accomplished what they came to do. ‘Oh? And what was that?’ I inquired. ‘We conducted Christian Warfare’, replied the Pastor. Somewhat alarmed I lied: ‘Oh, I see!’ And how did you managed to go about that? ‘ One of us has the task of diverting attention while the rest of us worked’.  It turned out that their warfare was of the most gentle type, and that it only involved prayer. When they left the charming women insisted they had to pray with me too- had they noticed that I suffered from bad temper?-  and I was happy about that of course- who knows? any goodness coming my  way like this might be useful and is certainly welcome. So here we are, in a prayer- clinch.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Learn from Africa!

And apropos such things, there would be  ONE very useful thing that NGO's could do to help the sustainability of this planet. They could start a campaign to eradicate loo paper in the West. How many millions of trees have been cut down to produce this useless commodity?
I have personally not used loo paper for 8 years. When I am forced to do so, say, on holiday in Europe, or in hotels in Africa that caters for Toubabs, I feel dirty.
The solution is extremely simple and costs nothing. A plastic kettle like the one above is deposited next to the loo and simple water is used, after which one washes one's hands thoroughly of course.
Africa has been using this solution since the beginning of time. It is only now, in the cities amongst the new elite that a need  to use toilet paper has been introduced!

The PeePoo Solution.

Is it the 1st of April ? No, unfortunately not. The news item that has just been passed on France 24 does actually seem to be true, although it seems scarcely possible.

And it is the Swedes, my countrymen  who are responsible , I am deeply ashamed to admit.
Its a question of the alleged lack of toilets in Africa. The programme shows a porcelain toilet and the presenter comes up with some staggering statistics about lack of toilets in Africa . I believe they must be talking about the flushing,  porcelain variety. Yes, indeed they are quite right. There IS a  lack of Chaises Anglaises in Africa. In Djenne for instance, there are only about twenty such perhaps, and fourteen of them are at Hotel Djenne Djenno.  That does not mean that people are squatting in the street however. Amazing as it seems, Africans have managed to dispose of their no 2s even without the the ingenuity of Swedish NGOs.  But this is Mali. The programme was about East Africa, where there seems to be some problem.  Never fear, however,  the Swedes have come up with  the solution : People are supposed to shit into cute little bio degradable plastic bags, no doubt designed by IKEA.

There was a representative from the PeePoo people on the programme, explaining the invention : he said that it would be useful for people without  toilets, they could indeed deposit their  number 2s  in the PeePoo bag, then dig a hole and bury the bag in the comfort of their own garden.  There was also some added deodorant in the bag, to make this a more pleasurable experience .  Now, if this is the way people are supposed to do it, why can’t they just shit in a potty and then bury the content and wash out the potty ?  Lord, give us strength and save us from Swedish inventions. I wonder how much the PeePoo people are paid ?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Aristotle's Instructions for Bloggers

I have collided with practical problems of a literary theory nature. (Yes, I know that  doesn’t seem to make sense but bear with me.) It had never occured to me that I might need advice on such things. Although I have had a go at almost everything else  I was not a writer after all. The little  literary theory I  was aware of I had encountered when I studied French. I  knew that Aristotle had a lot to say about literature. For instance that tragedy  is a purging of the emotions of fear and pity if I remember correctly. I also knew that the French expression of Aristotles’s ideas came up with such glories as Racine’s Phedre. Total madness in exquisite constraint. (Ce n’est plus une ardeur dans mes veines cachee/C’est Venus entière  à sa proie attachée- sorry couldn’t help quoting my favourite line…)
But now since I am trying to turn this journal into a book lots of  hitherto unknown complications surface. The main problem is about time and experience. When I wrote the first part of the blog I did not know a lot of things about Mali that I know now. So, should I just add those things ? I have tried writing these additions in italics. But it gets too messy. And it is  not only  annoying to keep reading hind sight reflexions, but it kills any dramatic development.  And  if I keep the book  as diary entries as I intend to do, it wouldn’t make sense to be seemingly ignorant in one place and then suddenly display knowledge I would not have had in the next sentence. I could of course just not let on that I know anything more now than  I did when I wrote the diary entry, and let it all unfold. But that is also not satisfactory because  I do need to explain certain things to make it interesting I think…

What to do ?  Aristotle just came to me, I think.  He didn't exactly tell me HOW to do it but he  said:  'Make up your own rules but  remain consistent to them. '

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


It must be full moon.
At least I hope so. That would in some small part explain why I have had such an unusually trying day. I have even had to bring out the disgruntled tot again  to express visually how I feel.

It is a question of rubbish disposal, or rather the lack of it. Two weeks ago I felt in a positive frame of mind and believed in the FUTURE. I therefore decided to call a rubbish disposal meeting. Seasoned readers of this journal know that this is not the first time. I now actually believed that it was to be the last time however, and I said as much to the assembled staff. I also made an important new appointment : Ace was given the title of Directeur de Poubelles. (Director of Rubbish Bins).
I then went through the well-worn instructions : THIS is the hole in the ground where the broken things go ; all the bottles, lightbulbs, batteries, aluminium cans etc ; all the indestructable stuff. This will eventually be covered up with earth. THIS is the hole where everything goes that will rot. That includes the horse and donkey kaka. At the end of the day you take a scoop of earth and cover it. Eventually it will go on the garden. THIS is the oil drum where everything else is burnt- paper, plastic bags, whatever. IS THIS UNDERSTOOD ? Yes, of course it was understood. But tonight as I went on my evening ride I dared to glance at the rubbish disposal area behind the hotel. Big Mistake.  There lay, scattered on the ground in no distinguishable order, and nowhere near the designated areas the following : A broken bamboo chair, an old wine carton and three coke cans as well as a smattering of old of plastic bags and scraps of paper !

I got off my horse . I  howled. I called another general meeting  and telephoned the Directeur de Poubelles to arrive immediately. Some ladies of the neighbourhood who were walking past stopped and watched my tantrum. ‘Yes???? And what do YOU want !’  I screamed at them. The ladies giggled and left.
I don’t know if I want to stay here any more.

Monday, November 04, 2013


These days, when I go to Bamako, I can no longer indulge in my customary Bamako treat : going to the fabulous pool at the Hotel Amitie is now no longer possible. And why is this ? Because this enormous hotel where the rooms costs more than E200 a night is taken over by the United Nations peace keeping forces. And that is not all : most of the luxury hotels in Bamako are fully booked with UN troops and administrative personnel.

And the reconciliation talks are carrying on in Bamako, attended by all the MNLA people who were previously sought by Interpol for various crimes against humanity and the nation. They are now dining with the head of the United Nation's peace keeping mission in Mali  in luxury restaurants in Bamako, I know, because I know the particular restaurateurs in question .

Meanwhile in Kidal , the MNLA are still in control of the government buildings  and apparently wandering around the town  fully armed,  although in accordance with the Ouagadougou agreement they are supposed to be ‘in containment’.  And  yesterday, two French journalists were kidnapped and killed.

Hollande is ‘very sad’,  and he wants  to send his condolances to the relatives. IBK is sad too, and also sends, with the Malian government, his deepest sympathy.


This is Hollande’s fault. Why did they not sweep up in Kidal when they had their chance ?  Their incomprehensible love affair with the MNLA will remain a thorn in their flesh. They will finally understand that they were mistaken, but it will then be too late.

As for the UN soldiers’ presence here, and all it costs to all of us, I am feeling a sudden desire to throw up. WHERE ARE THE UN SOLDIERS ? WHY DO THEY NOT SECURE KIDAL ???