Friday, July 14, 2006


8 April, Baba’s.
Today I will go with Dembele to visit the real Pama and continue my bogolan tuition, having taken my leave of the false Pama cordially but with some frostiness the other day. Dembele was in fact working for Pama some time ago, and he has done some sketches for me to show me the patterns he used. One of his drawings pleased me- he will be able to help me, certainly.
I am keenly aware that the remaining 6-7 weeks will pass in a lightning flash, and I have no time to lose. I want to leave here with several good complete bed-linen samples, as well as a whole range of patterns on cotton swatches. I may also want to have some samples of indigo weaving done - am in negociations with Boubakar the master weaver. I am not quite sure what one could do with his beautiful weaving apart from curtains, cushions or blankets, but will try and think of a few dress designs.
I have a little nascent dream of a shop in Notting Hill called MaliMali….
This is what one says in Mali instead of Chin Chin ever since the disgraced former president Moussa Traore went on a state visit to China. He had a drink with the Chinese Premier, who lifted his glass and said : ChinChin! The Malian thought that he said ‘ChineChine‘, and, applying a faultless logic he lifted his glass and replied 'MaliMali'! Surely this would be the correct form for him, as the representative of his country.

Well, have not got anything done at all, alas. My head is swimming from heat exhaustion and a persistent cold. If I do anything for half and hour I need to rest for three! And to make matters worse the real Pama doesn’t want to help me- or, to be fair, she said she left it to her son to decide. She is elderly now, and has not worked the Bogolan for three years, but has let her. son take over the business. He was not particularly friendly. He was positively unpleasant in fact. Oh, dear what to do now? I had not quite expected that reception… The third Bogolan wife of M. Bobo Traore remains. And she is just around the corner, so perhaps all will be well… I was preparing to go and see her, when Keita phoned from Bamako where he has gone for a seminar. I explained what had happened. He said , most authoritatively: do not do anything until I get there on Tuesday. I agreed. The idea of not doing anything until Tuesday did not need much promotion. I do need to rest and get rid of the cold, and I need to do some Bambara after all. I am not exactly sure what Keita is intending to do for me when he gets here on Tuesday, but lets see. He also managed to dissuade me from going to Segou to the cotton factory, which I suggested doing instead . It will be the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed for the next couple of days, and noone will work. There will certainly not be anyone at the Segou factory. Oh, well, just relax and try to do some Bambara. I am finding it quite impossible to remember anything at the moment- is it the heat or is it me? The language is charming however, and contains such linguistic delights as the word for butterfly: 'nfirinfirinin'.

Tuesday 11.
I have done what Keita said, and I have waited for him to come back from Bamako to help me. I have tried to recover from my bad cold and have tried to study Bambara, did some drawing in the market yesterday, but now I must get going! Will discuss it all with Keita tonight I expect. Feel on the one hand quite awkward at having to wait and trust him, after all I don’t know him really. But I am in need of protection here and some help. I have not been able to enlist anyone to help me with the Bogolan, apart from the woman who lied to me. I left her for that reason. Perhaps I should have continued there? No, how could I have done that? I DO need to discuss this with someone sensible. But will Keita be sensible? Well he is my best bet.
Meanwhile I will start the weaving commission with Boubakar, the master weaver today. I want him to weave me a quantity of indigo and white bands, which will either be a dress for me or a blanket for my mother. He is charging me 30 000 CFA (£30) for the work. I will photograph him and film him doing it. Posted by Picasa


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