Sunday, December 08, 2013

Dust and Deuxième Tour (Second round)

The Harmattan is sweeping in from the North, bringing fine sand  from the Sahara and a noticably cooler temperature. The Djenné population have taken to  wearing their wooly hats again( it is now about 25- 30 degrees C instead of 45..) and are gearing up for the second round of the elections.  It had looked as if Djenné  had already achieved  the necessary result since one of the candidates- the present MP- had received  51 % of the votes in the first round, and that is enough to win outright. But the population of Djenné was not happy, not even the supporters of the winner. Why ?
‘Why can’t we have a second round here ? Everywhere else does !’ went the rumblings  of discontentment .   I must say that I joined the chorus. Not for any political reason- far from it.  But elections are a lucrative business for a tourist town which is on its knees from lack of tourists. Election observers and officials must be fed and must have somewhere to sleep and some will hopefully return to Hotel Djenne Djenno.
If that was all, that would be well and above board. But there are more sinister reasons... Levy, my journalist friend told me this evening that there is hardly a family in Djenné and the surrounding villages that has not been paid something for their promise of a vote. There are millions being distributed by the candidates to ensure victory.  The youths that are making a nuisance of themselves tearing around town on their motos shouting 'vote RPM- Adema' or 'vote URD' are not doing it fur fun, as I had naively believed, but they are being paid! Naturally, all these people  don't want to lose out on the payment of a second round!
So, could this be  the reason  why there have been suddenly ‘irregularities’ discovered in three neighbouring villages, making the final figure go down to  49% for the winning side, thus not enough to sail through in the first round ?
Whatever- I 'm afraid I say Hurrah! for the second round too…
The Deuxième Tour is scheduled  for next Sunday but I will not be here. Two major events are calling me to Bamako : first of all on Thursday the 12th there is our long awaited ceremony for the handing over of the hard drive containing the 2 years of digitized Djenné manuscripts  to the National Archives. Phil Boyle , the British Ambassador  who came to visit us in June, has kindly promised to be present, and the event will be televised on Malian TV. I will have to say something of course . I keep wondering what to wear….Hmmm….let’s see :  I think it will have to be my embroidered Djenne boubou, with the big Peul earrings…
Ah, and yes, on Saturday there SANTA,  the big Christmas Fair for the Bamako toubabos. MaliMali will be there of course !

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