Thursday, September 13, 2012

The water keeps rising. We can take about 5 inches more, then it will arrive to the level it reached in 2010. If it reaches further... well, no more Hotel Djenne Djenno...

At the end of November Mali normally offers a unique Sahel spectacle: the legendary crossing of the cattle at Diafarabe (see previous blogs- early December 2007 and 2010). This is when the Malian herds cross from the northern shores of the Niger where they have been grazing during the rainy season, banished from the lands where the farming population of Mali grow their corn, rice and millet. The return of the cattle is a finely negociated moment, only settled when all the village chiefs are united: the harvests are done, the cattle can come back.

This year it is not only the abundant rains that threaten the crops. Where the fields are not inundated by water the cattle are often destroying the crops: the Fulani herdsmen have not dared crossing the river to the rebel held northern shores where the Jihadists hold sway and where they fear losing their cattle. Many have kept their animals on the southern shores causing havoc with the harvests and thereby rekindling ancient conflicts...


Blogger David said...

I remember your dramatic pictures well (lovely sunset shot at Mopti below, by the way) So when do the Fulani wade over with their cattle to the north side? Presumably that's what didn't happen earlier this year. I just wondered if that crossing was marked with similar ceremony.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

So many difficulties, so unfair to all land on Mali like this. I continue to send good thoughts your way.

12:40 AM  
Blogger mary said...

I am so pleased that you are continuing to enthrall, inform and sometimes sadden us with tales from Mali. Aljazeera had a tale of 16 people being killed near Segou the other day when they failed to stop at a checkpoint. Uncertainty arose in the report whether they were 'preachers' or 'fundamentalists' as if this justified the killings one way or the other.Did this spark any other outbursts of aggression? We think of you often and wish you well. I hope that the water levels do not rise much higher and that you,the hotel and all your crew remain safe.Greetings from sunny Northumberland.

5:53 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

David, the cattle goes north at the beginning of the rainy season- there is no special event. The water stands low and it is easy to cross.
Thank you for continuing to read and comment Susan! It always cheers me up!
And yes, Mary, it is true that 16 people were killed at a remote checkpoint in Mali. This is very sad, certainly. It is a great mystery why they did not stop at the check-point though. Everyone knows it is obligatory to stop here at a military check point, especially today's climate of heightened sensitivity. They were at first waved down, but refused to stop. Then they had warning shots fired in the air, not once but twice. They persisted in forcing the barrier. Now, I am not condoning the killing of innocents, but I can certainly understand how this could have happened. Why did they not stop?
We are a country on the brink of war. How would this event have been dealt with elsewhere?
Adam Nossiter in his report in the New York Times did not even mention that they had been flagged down, nor that they had had warning shots fired as far as I remember. He went straight for the interpretation that the Malian Army is incompetent and indisciplined. How would other army check points have reacted to 16 bearded Northerners forcing a check point? I don't know,I am not condoning the killings, I just wonder...

7:27 PM  
Blogger Gilliane said...

Sophie, my thoughts are with you. I HOPE the water level doesn't get too high.
Love, Gilliane xxx

8:14 AM  

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