Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lost Blog Entries

I am very upset! I feel as if I have been burgled!
 There are whole sections of my blog that are disappearing! For instance, in July I have lost several entries including the entry  about the Bad Grandmothers of the Island of Mayotte, (which was a personal favourite) I have also lost all the entries about the Prince Claus Foundation and the tree planting, and most of the entries about my bogolan adventures in Diabolo in August! They have simply disappeared from the blog unless one taps in a special search word in the blogsearch, then these entries appear again.
And of course, it is impossible to write to the blog people. I can only vent my ire in a forum! I know it is only a blog, but I feel quite possessive about this- it is mine and it is my creation, just to be a little pretentious about it...but there is nothing to say that it will not be just wiped off tomorrow, just like that!

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes Franciscanus)

A few days ago I thought I had something wrong with my eyes. There was an odd  red spot moving around  on my retina everytime I went towards the stable. Something red bobbing up and down  in my field of vision and  then disappearing.  A day later I saw this beautiful bird sitting in the lemon tree by the stable.  When I got too close  he took flight  and I realized this was what I had seen: his flying technique is unusual and a little clumsy: he is quite a solid little thing and very red and he looks as if he is manipulated by an inexperienced puppetmaster sitting in the sky as he sways somewhat unsteadily  across the land .

According to Collins  Birds of Western and Central Africa his habitat is ‘open and bushed tall grass areas’ , which is exactly what our land is now since we have not really started landscape gardening here yet. He often sits in the little lemon tree, then he takes off for a tour around, but when he gets to the perimetre of our land he turns around and comes trundling  back again through the air like an oversized red bumblebee. Another favourite place to sit is on the mud turret of the bogolan studio, where he looks very regal surveying the land. I think he must be a very good example, even prettier than his  illustration in Collins.  I will have to wait for my photographic bird expert Birgit to take some better pictures of the Bish!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Independence Day

 On the 22nd of September  54 years ago Mali gained its independence. This event is always celebrated all over Mali  by the administration, and Djenne is no exception: the Mairie and  The Prefecture  stage  a show in the square in front of the Mairie  and  numerous sections of Djenne civil society file past the stand of the dignitaries while the most comely of the maidens in each group perform a dance and place their gifts in front of the Prefect.   The Bozos lay down their fish, the butchers file past  with a selection of meat... the masons bring a miniature model of a Djenne gate in mud,
the Fulani  beauties with amber and gold in their hair lay down their calebasses of fresh milk.

 The air is filled  with blue clouds of gunpowder from the hunters’ guns, as they file past wearing their pungent bogolan outfits, bedecked with bones, teeth, animal hornes  and mirror shards while the hunters'  griots play  their gonis in  slow incantantory tones.
 Next come the  young boys from the Karate club who performed a Kata, and last but not least there are of course the lengthy speeches of the authorities... I put an appearance in, since I had been invited and it would look bad not to go along, but otherwise we are rather snowed under at the studio...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I see no Ships

A very long time ago I was a model. I worked mainly in Paris, Milan and in London.  I was not a supermodel by any means , but I did fairly well. I worked for prestigous magazines including French and Italian Vogue and Elle but the everyday work was more humdrum-and more lucrative-, and involved week long trips doing shoots for catalogues. And here we have, Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the inescapable poses for catalogue modelling. It is called ‘I see no ships’. There is also another very important  pose called the ‘Teapot’ which is well known to anyone worth their salt in  the catalogue modelling buisness, and that is one which I might use another time, if the spirit moves me.. . the fact is, I had no idea that I remembered ‘I see no ships’!  It came back to me quite naturally as if I were in Marbella or in Djerba again. (Two favourite hang outs for catalogue shoots, at least then, and we are talking early eighties.)
And this shoot was of course the tail end of the Malimali shoot, because there remained the swing coat  Vernissage’ to photograph, and Maman did it yesterday. I called it ‘Vernissage’ quite pretentiously, because it seems to me this is the sort of coat I might  myself wear to a London, Paris of Stockholm opening of something, while sipping a glass of something... perhaps wearing a smarter pair of boots, perhaps high healed...anyway, it is all done. Please see the collection on and on

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Sleeping Camel

I have spent nearly a week in Bamako doing useful things, beginning last Thursday morning with my voting for the Swedish Parliamentary elections at the Swedish Embassy.  I then stayed on to photograph the new MaliMali collection and to put it up on the MaliMali website: a task I could not have achieved in Djenne because of the bad internet connection. None of my customary friends and hosts were in Bamako, so I had to cast around for somewhere to stay. I could not quite face the Catholic hostel by the cathedral and its spartan cells so I decided to go up one notch and to stay at a hostel  called The Sleeping Camel, still good value, and well known to the back packer variety of travellers.  A very friendly sort of place where people spread out their Michelin West Africa maps over the tables, drink beer from the bottle and discuss travel plans, mainly in English, since the place is owned by Matt, an Australian and now run by Phil Pauletta, a young American.  It turned out to be a very useful place to stay: I was able to use Djenneba (above)  the chef as one of my models and Hawa the waitress as the other one, and John an English biker on a trip around the world lent us his bike as a prop!



But not only back packers stay at the Sleeping Camel:  many others such as several UN employees who could afford to stay elsewhere chose to stay at the Camel because it is a fun and relaxed place and the food is good too.
I also met these two quite extraordinary people: Matteo, left above,  an Italian architect and Hank, and American engineer and entrepreneur, both here independently putting together projects that they have designed and financed themselves: Matteo is building solar lights from old bicycle frames and thereby illuminating the villages around Cinzana , north of Segou and Hank is building airplanes to help with crop transport 


River Trip

And as if this was not enough excitement, there was also a river cruise yesterday with my friend Karen who had brought along a delightful musician friend of hers from New York called Will Calhoun ( prow of boat)  It turned out that he played in a group called Living Colour (still does)  which I saw  performing in London around 1990, when they played in a combined concert with Mudhoney and Nirvana!

Tomorrow back to Djenne again...