I am still here, although I have been lying low for some time. Now speaking from Bamako, but leaving for Djenne once more tomorrow morning in the old Merc at 6.30.
I am in Bamako for the condoléances for Keita’s Tante. A lovely old woman who I saw just two weeks ago when I arrived in Mali again after my European trip. She was so full of life and energy. She hugged me and seemed genuinely happy to see me: the widow of Keita, her favourite. She was struck down by a heart attack three days ago and a very large funeral was held yesterday. Above is a picture of Keita and La Tante in 2016, a couple of month before Keita left us. I was certain she was going to live to a hundred. She was certainly in better health than I am- or at least so it seemed.
Once more I sat yesterday with the mourning women in the house where Keita grew up for another funeral. It is always a cathartic experience- one shields one’s face with one’s headscarf and then it is OK to just cry. Tears flow for the person deceased, for others that died before, for one’s own future demise and for whatever one feels like crying for. All very useful for clearing away bottled up anxiety.
I was hoping to leave tomorrow morning for Timbuktu on the UN plane. I had been invited for a conference staged by UNESCO concerning the pillage of Malian artifacts such as those found in archaeological excavations and the sale/export of ancient manuscripts. But because of the terrorist attack on a military camp in Gao this morning which has claimed up to 50 casualties the conference in Timbuktu has been postponed to a later date. The UN plane which was to take us to Timbuktu has been requisitioned for the transport of wounded to Bamako for specialist care.
More soon inshallah.