Saturday, September 30, 2006

We raised well over £500, and the figure is rising with donations coming in from people that couldn't make it.
Thanks to Dennis at the Fashion and Textile Museum for helping me, and for letting the event take place, thanks to my overworked shop assistant Lucy, my bartender Nellie, to Barnaby for bringing lovely books and donating a third of the profits, to Tom for turning up with signed copies of his Mali travel tales, to my badly treated assistant Michelle, thanks for great gifts from Sara, Gisela and many others. To everyone elso who came and helped and spent: Thanks from the Bozo children above for everyone's support which will help to keep the pinasse ambulance afloat! The winner of the raffle was Rose of Eland Publishing. Posted by Picasa
I am taking the liberty of speaking on behalf of Monsignor Fonghoro, the Bishop of Mopti: he will most probably forgive me. The Tailoring Department of his beloved Technical College St Joseph Sevare is going to be able to start buying scissors and measuring tapes, and all because of the generous support given to the Mali evening last night- so:
Grand Merci de St Joseph Sevare!
 Posted by Picasa
Feeling in an exuberant mood this morning, because last night's Mali evening went very well. To celebrate I will show you a silly picture of my friend Cressida Bell and myself in African garb in Cressida's garden. My Mali friends are very excited about CRESSIDA- Keita likes to say her name which he finds funny. Le tout Djenne is hoping she will soon come and see me, because I have explained that she is a bit like me, only a little bigger and blonder. That sounds heavenly they have all decided and are awaiting her arrival. Keita even had his tailor make her an outfit, which I brought back for her. CRESSIDA's arrival might not be quite as imminent as they are all hoping, alas. She is a dedicated foodie and has absolutely no interest in going to a hotel which hasn't had any glowing write-ups about its restaurant. The kitchen of Hotel Djenne Djenno is being built as I am writing this, so any write-ups are premature.... I shall have to get Sisoko practising the banana souffles when I get back. Sisoko will be my chef I think, he is trained in France and let's see what they taught him... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Although I am still in London I am no longer present here. I have left and I am in Mali. All the London things around me are still the same: my walls, the books on my shelves, the room where we have had lots of fun; my familiar landscape still exists, but barely- it is fading, and it is light and already transparent. What was so concrete, unquestionable and real will be dissolved within a few days. Boxes are invading the floor- my London life is being packed away and I feel like a ghost. Everything has lost its material substance and somehow gone into black and white like an old movie. Objects that meant something have become irrelevant and I am reckless, perhaps, in my discarding of my material life. I feel like a moth or one of those insects that change state: I am moving from one to another. I will hopefully emerge again in Mali- perhaps as a butterfly but I might not have reached that stage of development yet...
in any case, hope to see you there! (but meanwhile don't forget Friday's jumblesale- see below!) Posted by Picasa
Some of the fabrics I dyed with leaves and bark and painted with mud from the river Niger in the ancient 'Bogolan' tradition will be for sale at Friday's Evening for Mali (see below)-proceeds to the two projects of course. This is how the textiles will look at HOTEL DJENNE DJENNO! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The lovely Barnaby Rogerson of ELAND Publishing: purveyors of the finest travel books in the world, such as the glorious Mungo Park Diaries, has promised to bring a selection of his books to sell on Friday (see blog entry below) and WILL DONATE A THIRD OF PROCEEDS to the Mali evening: Hurrah!
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006

I am packing up and leaving for Mali again on October tenth- more soon! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Friday 29th September
at the Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street, London SW1

FILM SCREENINGS (Suleyman Cisse's Yeelen- an African masterpiece 7.30)

to raise money for the following two Malian projects:
1. St. Joseph's Technical college, Sevare- the tailoring department needs equipment
2. The River Ambulance (see pic below, and previous blog entries)
Do try and be there if you are in London-or give something good to the jumblesale?
Email me through this site for any questions

 Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sophie's feet briefly touching English soil again....and what do I find? Posted by Picasa
If you were looking in the 'World of Interiors' and saw this picture, would your first reaction be: ' gosh, the fabric on the left of the back of that lorry really is great- have to have it for my new sofa'...? Posted by Picasa
I am back in London briefly- and what do I find: this months World of Interiors has great pictures of Djenne! All ostensibly to sell the new season's furnishing fabrics, just using the fabulous settings of Mali's mud buildings. What you see immediately above will be more or less what you will get on the roof of Hotel Djenne Djenno when you come up for sundown drinks about 6.30.... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Women in Mali don't ride bicycles.
This lady comes from Burkina Faso, and there they do.
I tried to find out from Rachel, my only female friend in Djenne, why this is. She couldn't shed any light on it, but assured me that it would be quite impossible for her to ride a bicycle from her home to the hotel, where I hope to employ her as my receptionist. 'Just look around', she said. 'Do you see any women on bicycles in Djenne?' I had to admit that she was right. The only women ever seen on bicycles would be myself and the other toubab, my friend Ariel, the Peace Corps volunteer.
'But why not, Rachel? it is perfect for Djenne! You only need to cycle for 5 minutes and you would be there!'
Rachel was getting quite hot under the collar by this stage. She replied, crisply: ' I have not researched the reasons in depth, but I know there are some good reasons'. We leave it at that.
Malians have a tendency to speak for the entire Malian nation: 'We don't do that here' or 'We do this in Mali'. This can be quite alien and puzzling for a European who is used to infinite choice and freedom to do and think as we please.
While on the subject of transport..... Posted by Picasa
My lovely new (ish) Mitsubishi 4- wheel drive which will ferry essentials such as beer -and other beverages- from Mopti to Djenne. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sacrificial Inauguration?
Although Baba is the owner of the land on which I am building Hotel Djenne Djenno, I have leased it and I am able to do more or less as I please. I want to keep on friendly terms with him, of course, and so far he is very pleased with the progress.
He is so pleased, in fact, that he had a rather alarming idea the other day, which he communicated to me amid much excited gesticulation and rolling of eyes.
'We will have to have a big inauguration feast', he insisted. (I did not much like his choice of personal pronoun, but decided to ignore it)
'All the Marabouts of Djenne will have to be there to give ritual benediction' (there are about 50) , 'and we must sacrifice a white bullock on the forecourt of the hotel!'
I started to explain, rather feebly, that I was a member of the RC congregation of St. Francis of Assissi, Notting Hill, and that, perhaps...' Not to worry', interrupted Baba, spreading his arms in a magnanimous gesture, and assured me that Allah is great and merciful and would not hold this unfortunate circumstance against me. He would in fact send his family marabout to guide me, so there was nothing to worry about....
(the bull picture is from the floor of the state bathroom of Kentwell Hall, Suffolk, where I painted a mock mosaic floorcloth a few years ago.) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Child discipline Malian style:
Little Mohammed has been a naughty boy and hit his baby brother. He now has to stand on his head until he is allowed to come down. Posted by Picasa
5 minutes later: Poor Mohammed has not yet been let down, but don't worry, his release is imminent... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I will have to put my mind to the electricity installation of the hotel shortly, and I spent some time chatting to the proprietor of the Campement Hotel in Koro in the Dogon Country on our way through the other day. He very kindly offered to introduce me to his electrician, whose work is show cased above...ahem... Posted by Picasa
Back in Djenne the plumber had been busy and all the waterpipes had been installed in all my 11 bathrooms! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 08, 2006

The village elders gave us a formal benediction as the 'pinasse' ambulance left the last village. Thanks again to those who helped to make this trip possible through generous support. Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa
The rainy season brings long, fresh grass, and this is the time when the girls and women in the Bozo villages are busy weaving the mats with which their huts are made in the months ahead when they will up camp to migrate along the river to other shores, following the migration of the fish. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

While Keita was busy healing the sick children of the Bozo villages, dispensing anti-malarial serums etc I amused myself by terrifying the few remaining healthy ones. This is not quite as reprehensible as it sounds; it never fails to entertain and it is very easily accomplished: all one needs to do, as a toubab, is to walk down the middle of the village. The mere sight of white skin is guaranteed to scatter the children in all directions, running for their life and screaming at the top of their voices.
According to the 'dogotiges' in all the Bozo villages where we choose to stop, no toubab had, to their knowledge, ever set their foot in their village before.
But at the end the children calmed down and we made friends, as I think you can see from the picture below. Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa