Thursday, July 20, 2006


Thursday 20th April.
It is eight o’clock and I have already had breakfast- that is more like it -there is too much to do! Woke up at 6 overcome by a feeling of urgency. My big lizard (I call him Kevin, because in spite of his exotic exterior he is quite ordinary and not very adventurous) sat on the wall close by, immobile like an ornament, as he does every morning. The women and children had not even started their daily migrations to the well in the courtyard below.
My little bogolan sample factory is slowly shaping up- today I am installing another table, lent to me by Baba, which will become an ironing table. I need lots of other things but this time I will have to make do. Let’s hope it will be enough to produce something convincing to bring back with me.
Of course it may be that I won’t do bed-linen- but perhaps beautiful fabrics suitable for furnishings and clothing? My geometric designs based on the circle and the square are very good for this- they would become a sort of new, African Marimekko…?’Malimekko?’

Evening, Campement with a beer.

The Campement Hotel is where everything happens to do with the outside world in Djenne. A run-down Rick’s bar without the glamour, but which nevertheless exerts a certain pull, if only because there is nowhere else to go even remotely like home. The Campement has been here for decades, the only watering hole in town, if one excludes Baba’s, where it is also possible to drink a beer, albeit in a more rustic setting. This is where everyone stays: Bob Geldof; Ali Farka Toure just a month before he died; strumming on his guitar at night for an impromptu concert. This is where deals are brokered once in a blue moon; where impossible plans are hatched over a cold Castel beer, where staff from NGO’s tap away at their laptops; assorted toubabs flit around the rickety tables looking busy, passing through on unidentified projects. At the next table local dignitaries including the Maire of Djenne are entertaining a preppy young American with the aid of an interpreter- He mouths pleasantries: ‘I am so pleased to have seen Djenne finally- I am really overwhelmed by the warm reception you have given me. I was most impressed by the radio station. I am sure we will be able to do something together’. From the Embassy? Or US-Aid?

The wind is up and warm, sandy gusts sweeps around my chair- I take my laptop with me to the Campement now, because it prevents me from looking as if I am waiting to be picked up. I am surprised my computer is still working- it is constantly covered in a fine dust mingling with other bits of pollution such as the mango juice which trickled down on the keyboard this lunchtime.
The staff here, a kind, officious bunch dressed in threadbare white jackets held together with the occasional remaining gold button, have been treating me like the queen recently because they regard me as Keita’s woman. The staff at the hospital and the Campement play each other at five-aside football. They whip out a table from underneath the large circular grass roof which partly covers the court yard as soon as I arrive, because that is what Keita arranges every time he comes here- he likes to sit under the stars, and so do I. They leave me alone, having at first exchanged some little word relating to Keita- have I spoken to him? How is his trip to Bamako? I recognize that to be associated with Keita is a good thing for many reasons. Posted by Picasa


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