Sunday, January 03, 2010

Partial eclipse of a ‘blue moon’, a once-in-a-lifetime sight enjoyed on the last day of 2009 by the guests of Hotel Djenne Djenno, which included a group of Californians who did much to perpetuate my theory that generalizations are, generally speaking, a fine thing. They were mostly vegetarian and they did yoga on the roof at sunrise and sunset. They had names such as ‘Orpheo’, ‘Ocean’ and ‘Love’. They were on their way to Essakane (the Festival in the Desert) where one of their number was performing as it transpired to our great surprise… He had been serenading the other hotel guests with his guitar ever since his arrival, and, well, hmm… Ocean asked me if there was much ‘depression’ here. I said that to ‘be depressed’, was a luxury invented by westerners. Here people are sad if their brother, wife or daughter dies; if there is not enough to eat or perhaps sometimes if their husband takes a second wife. There is not much navel gazing going on, and weltschmerz, angst or ennui have not yet been imported.


Blogger David said...

Um, well, I'd challenge that, and so would Andrew Solomon of Noonday Demon fame. There just isn't the language for it or the proper perception. And whatever the Bambara for 'pull yourself together' is, it's about as helpful as it is here.

1:18 PM  
Blogger David said...

PS - your remark way back about no such thing as gay men in Mali, also of course not true. Also simply not recognised.


2:35 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

I think that there seems to be an equal measure of misery around at any given time or place. If one is poor and there is a famine, one is preoccupied with that. I can't imagine anyone asking anguished questions about the meaning of life when there is not enough food on the table. Once such preoccupations go away, and the seven years of good harvest arrives, then there will be time to get depressed about less tangible things. That doesn't put any value judgements on suffering, it is, as I believe, seemingly a constant supply of assorted forms of suffering.
As far as 'being gay' in Mali, I am working myself up to a blog on the subject because something just happened here .... will keep u posted.

9:27 PM  

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