Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Merry Christmas from Hotel Djenné Djenno!
Thank you kind donors!
Keita's friend Bamoye and I have some things in common :
First and importantly KarKar makes us cry. KarKar (Boubakar Traoré) is a Malian troubadour who pares down his performance by guitar and voice to the bare essentials : there is not a word or a chord which is not necessary. And what is there is extremely simple : just love and loss, love and reunion ; love and loss. All of Kar Kar is about love.
Now, Bamoye is a Romantic and a kinded spirit. He is also a welder. I had entrusted him with my version of the Mies van der Rohe chairs, and he did the sample beautifully. The problem is when I then gave him a big order for 16 chairs and bought all the material, he handed it all over to his apprentices, who made it all into a dog’s dinner. I was extremely annoyed , but this is a very long time ago now. Since then we have seen each other a lot of times : Bamoye is one of Keita’s best friends . Bamoye plays the guitar : he did not have one of his own, but used to come to the hotel to play the guitar we have here. Bamoye made a song for me with the lyrics : ‘Sophie Ya Fama!', (Sophie, forgive me!’) this song was very moving and KarKar himself could not have done better and of course I forgave him- I had forgiven him a long time ago.
About four years ago when there was plenty of tourists here and many musicians returning from Timbuktu’s Festival in the Desert, there was a young man here with his guitar. He ran into Bamoye one night and they stayed up on my sunset terrace almost from sunset to sunrise and played together - Bamoye played the hotel guitar and the young musician asked him to teach him the song ‘Forgive me Sophie’, which he did. As a thank you present the young musician gave Bamoye his guitar when he left !
So Bamoye played his guitar which he cherished more than anything that he owned. One day Bamoye had to go away for a few days. While he was away an acquaintance arrived at his house and said to Bamoye’s wife : ‘ Give me Bamoye’s guitar, he told me I could have it when he was away’. So Bamoye’s wife gave it to him. When Bamoye came back home there was no guitar. ‘Where is my guitar ?’ asked Bamoye. ‘I gave it to your friend’ said Bamoyes’s wife.
What followed was a high tension drama which involved a large number of Djenné inhabitants who took different sides in the dispute which ensued . When Bamoye finally found the guitar it was ruined. He had never given his consent for his acquaintance to take the guitar and use it. Bamoye became so incensed that he wanted to divorce his wife. He banished her from his house with their three children. She was living with her parents for several weeks until both Keita and I intervened and said ‘ You can’t divorce your wife for the sake of a guitar !’ The rest of Djenne filed passed Bamoyes’s abode and said about the same thing. Eventually Bamoye took her back . When I told Birgit this story she said : ‘Why can’t you divorce your wife for the sake of a guitar ? I totally understand . It was his most precious thing in the entire world !’
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Born to be Wild
Friday, December 13, 2013
On the right of me is Badra Dembélé, one of the Djenné town councillors. On the far left is Babou Touré, another town councillor and also part of the Library Committé and one of my two advisors and collaborators on the digitization project. On the left side of me is Hasseye Traoré, Grand Marabout de Djenné and President of the Library Committé.
We are looking quite happy- that is because we are about to hand over a copy of the hard drive with the 150 000 images from the last two years work at the Djenné Manuscript Library to the Archives Nationales in Bamako.
At least twenty people had come all the way from Djenné for the ceremony, as well as many of the Djenné population that now reside in Bamako.
There was Phil Boyle, the British Ambassador who handed over the hard drive to the Director of the Archives Nationales and there was in the audience the new Swedish Ambassador Eva Emneus. So I was spoilt by the ambassadors of both 'my' countries!
more pictures on https://www.facebook.com/DjenneManuscriptLibrary
I did make a speech and I was later interviewed by the Guardian - a very nice chap called Charlie. I told him by the by that I had been cross with some of the Guardian's coverage of the Mali crisis... I hope he went off to check 'guardian' in the blog search above...
...and then this morning I had to get up at 6.30 to go across town and see a journalist from the BBC- I was live on the World Service on something called News Day, talking about the Djenne manuscripts!
And now on to the next reason why I am in Bamako: tomorrow's SANTA, the Christmas fair. Rush Rush Rush!!!
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Dust and Deuxième Tour (Second round)
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…
Saturday, December 07, 2013
ALA KA HINE ALA- Mandela
I cannot claim to have met him, nor to have any new insights in to his life but I have noticed that he is revered and will be remembered for the most noble of human virtues and qualities:
and probably I have forgotten something: yes, of course, Tenacity and Faith (although I am not sure about the details: I don't know anything about this side of him...)
Rest in Peace Mandela.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
The mystery of Karim
Karim, my griot/gardener’s assistant/groom/chamber’maid’ (yes, since the Mali crisis started most of the staff have had to fulfil multiple functions) is a very unusual person. No one understands him, but that is part of his strange charm. He came from Yangasso one day out of the blue some years ago now asking me to give him a job. ( see June 10, 2011 and June 19, 2013) Noone knows where he eats or where he sleeps- although I have my suspicions that he sleeps in the laundry room... He is infuriatingly incompetent in many ways: he can’t see cobwebs for instance, and therefore never removes them. He has made it quite clear that he thinks I am making a frightful fuss over nothing concerning the rubbish disposal- he is the one supposed to burn things and put things in their designated places.
But he is not insolent or impolite at all. He is just very much in charge of himself. He is very ‘cool’ : that is how I think I would have described him when I was a teenager. Sometimes he does accept to sing, and then he brings his red painted Kamale Goni and sings my praises all night long.
Although we have our differences when it comes to cleaning matters etc, there is one area where we do understand each other perfectly: my little griot loves animals, and they love him. Most Malians are indifferent and even cruel to animals. I am now potty about my little donkey foal Boubakar, and Karim laughs approvingly about this. He also knows that I love my stubborn little horse Petit Bandit, who has taken to following me around the large enclosure that surrounds the MaliMali studio and my house. He does this not because he loves me, sadly, but because I have an inexhaustible supply of burro (bread) in my bag, and he is a dominikelaba (a glutton).