Friday, July 27, 2007

This morning , when I went to say hello to Xaloc who is grazing on the tender new grass in front of the hotel I found a piece of paper flying around in the breeze. It was a note that I had thrown away at least two weeks ago. It had been placed in a deep hole in the distance where we throw our rubbish. It should have been burned, but since my instructions are not always carried out, there it was, still legible, bearing the name and number of a young woman I have been meaning to contact for some time, thinking she may become a friend. Apart from Allessandra the Touareg (see entry a couple of weeks ago) I have no female friends here.

Although I admire the cheerful resilance and strength of poor uneducated Malian women, I am quite cross with their educated sisters. All that university education seems to accomplish for these women is to remove the use of their legs. Once they have been to university, they become too grand to walk. Since Malian women, in contrast to their sister in Burkina Faso (see August 06 entry) are not allowed- or don't want to- ride bicycles, the only alternative is a small moped or scooter. However, not everyone is able to afford this. Therefore the educated women of Mali sit around waiting for their husbands or boyfriends to pick them up on their motor cycles.
In addition, the educated women of Mali, if they have a job, keep their whole salary to spend on themselves, buying jewellery or clothes or whatever they may fancy. They do not pay a penny towards the upkeep of their families, which is all the responsibility of their husbands.
This arrangement is the wish of both husbands and wives- as far as the husbands go, it means they keep total power, because money is power here. The women comply with this arrangement, because they like buying jewellery and being ferried about on the back of motorcycles.

That is not all. Let me rant on since I have started.
The educated women of Mali, when they are taken out for a drink, at Hotel Djenne Djenno for example, sit next to their husbands or boyfriends like flowerpots and say absolutely nothing, looking vacantly into the air, whether they have degrees in anthropology or sociology or philosophy.
The puzzling thing is that one sees marvellous, educated Malian women on televison- so they must exist. Articulate, brave, ambitions women who are doing things in politics, health and education.
The truth is that Djenne is a backwater, an extremely traditional place where women do not have opinions.
But this morning, as I said, there it was, the paper flying around in the air, bearing the name and number of this young woman- clearly sent as a reminder to contact her?
She works at an ONG ( French for NGO, or Non-Governemental Organisation) here in Djenne, doing something in education with European funds. That means she has a very good salary. Probably quite a lot larger than her husband who is a school teacher. But although she keeps her salary she chooses to do something with it rather than simply buy jewellery, and she is the person who single handedly brought in , and paid for, the Malian star Saramba Koyaute, who stayed in this hotel last March. (see entry mid March)
She lost a lot of money on this exercise, because the star was supposed to perform in Sofara, a neighbouring village, the day after her performance in Djenne. However the star was enjoying the comforts of Hotel Djenne Djenno so much that she refused to move, and when she finally turned up everyone had gone home and vitually no tickets were sold.
Perhaps my potential new friend lacks organisational skills, but she has vision , ambition and lots of energy to have arranged the concerts. She needs cultivating and today I will call her and invite her for dinner. Who knows what we may be able to concoct together?


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