Sunday, February 15, 2015

From the Kanaga Hotel, Mopti


La Caravane Culturelle pour la Paix  is an initiative to continue, at least in some way,  the famous  Festival du Desert’  which took place in the desert just north of Timbuktu in happier times.  Last night this ambulating festival  which just played at the Festival sur le Niger in Segou and also in the towns of San and Koutiala reached Mopti and gave a splendid concert on the shore of the Niger in front of the Kanaga Hotel.
I had been invited by a group of Americans who stayed at hotel Djenné Djenno a couple of days ago: they were the ‘Timbuktu Renaissance Project’, led by the dynamic Cynthia Schneider, above, art historian and former US ambassador to the Netherlands whom I met at the library conference in Bamako. Her vision is that culture can be used as a form  of diplomacy and that it should be used to  build bridges and to reconcile. Therefore the Timbuktu Renaissance Project does not only sponsor this  roving music festival, but also the saving of the Timbuktu manuscripts for which they have found sponsorship through Google.
I couldn’t help being a little sniffy about the fact that once more Timbuktu is placed centre stage to the exclusion of everything else, and once more money is directed only towards Timbuktu’s manuscripts… also that the caravan passes straight  by Djenné of course. Nevertheless,  I have done my best to try and persuade  them to come to Djenné next year.  Chris,  right  above, explained what I already know: Timbuktu is a sort of worldwide concept, a brand in fact,  which is easily sold. I suppose that it would be much more difficult to sell the concept of saving the manuscripts of Djenné to Google… Anyway, I decided that what they are doing is of course a very good thing and stopped sulking which allowed me to enjoy a great trip on the river and later the concert, which included a lot of great Tuareg music and above all the fabulous, joyous  and very eccentric Bobo Band BANZOBO, complete with balafon and Mohican outfits (I tip them for imminent world wide stardom) and a wild, wild dance beat which sent one festival reveller into a sort of possession trance  and she had to be carried off stage… All in all a great little interlude in Mopti.






Blogger David said...

Yes, that's a shame about Timbuktu - worth seeing, but not worth going to see (actually not true, since the going and the getting-away are actually the most interesting aspects of the experience).

'Her vision is that culture can be used as a form of diplomacy and that it should be used to build bridges and reconcile'. Isn't that what our beloved Jeremiah is up to? In less dire circumstances, of course.

11:30 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Indeed David: cultural diplomacy is of course exactly what our Jeremiah is up to. And goood luck to both him and the Timbuktu Renaissance team- about which I will post a little post script soon...

2:39 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

You know, Sophie, it is because of you (through David), that I really became aware of this part of the world as more than someplace on a map. So, to me, Djenné is the beating heart, and I'm aware of Timbuktu in relationship to where you are. You're right, though, the Timbuktu Renaissance Project seems definitely a project for the good and will get even better if the scope is widened to include what is happening in Djenné, in name and fact.

12:13 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Susan, that is nice to hear! And in fact, when talking to the 'Timbuktu Renaissance' members- all of them fascinating and equally visionary,please look up

it is clear that their ambition does not stop at Timbuktu but they are seeing Timbuktu as the portal through which to enter and to reach the rest of Mali-

12:39 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Art - drama - music all excellent tools for diplomacy and understanding...and sometimes for starting wars.

11:42 AM  

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