Saturday, August 10, 2013

Last minute election maraboutage …

Djenne is the centre of Malian Maraboutage, as we know. This is a form of Islamic Magic still practised and believed in, at least to some degree, by every Malian I know. Now it is very much part of Malian election campaining...

During the first round campaign both the two remaining candidates came to Djenne and met with the Djenne Marabouts. I have inside knowledge through Yelfa, my friend and Grand Marabout at the Djenne Manuscript Library and can  therefore tell you that IBK gave 1000 000FCFA (ca E 1500) to the Marabouts while Soumaila gave 2000 000 FCFA. ‘But this is not very logical’, I objected to Yelfa. ‘There can be only one winner in this’. The Marabouts can’t make both win!' Yelfa explained that they wanted only the blessings of the Djenne Marabouts for a peaceful election. But now the stakes are higher and methods are becoming less genteel:

The  Bamako ‘Reporter’ has come forward with some interesting information which it reported yesterday totally without irony. I translate below the main gist of the article:

Soumi’s Sacrifices (Soumi=Soumaila Cisse, IBK’s adversary in tomorrow’s second round)
Ever since the closing of the polling stations and the proclamation of the first results which gave... IBK the victory already  in the first round, the candidate of the URD (Soumaila Cisse) and his entourage have been consulting  their  Marabouts.  These have given the instruction to slaughter camels, an instruction which the URD candidate has followed to the letter. ..Therefore hundreds of camels have been ordered and sacrificed in one of the northern regions. This proves that Soumaila Cisse’s marabouts understand  the seriousness of the task ahead, and Cisse himself affirms that he will win the election, but not without great difficulty.”

And ‘The Reporter’ continues:

'Mali must sacrifice 70 horses in order to prevent a post election crisis.

The elections will proceed in peace if the authorities sacrifice 70 horses. If they fail to do so, Mali can expect the worst, because there will be a post election crisis which will have serious  consequences  for her very existence. It is in fact quite probable that the result of the ballot will be contested. At least this is what has been predicted in certain Bamako mosques during Friday prayer yesterday, in particular the Mosques of de Niamankoro, Faladié et Siarakoro, where the  young imams are purporting to have special knowledge  that in order to avert a disaster-a blood bath- Mali must sacrifice 70 horses.”

(A blood bath whatever happens in other words...)

But  an IBK supporter commenting on this article on was not so convinced, at least about the potency of  Cisse's camel sacrifices:
«CA FAIT RIRE, LE MARABOUTAGE NE PEUT  PAS SAUVER SOUMI. LE DIEU A DEJA DECIDE LES MARABOUS NE PEUVENT  RIEN CONTRE CA. «  (That is laughable, Maraboutage cannot save Soumi. God has already decided and the marabouts cannot undo it)...


Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Ms. Sarin,

I'm producer for a public radio show in the United States. I'd love to talk you about your story and the hotel. Would you mind emailing me at and I can give you more details?

Thanks so much,


6:04 PM  
Blogger Howard Lane said...

Ah! Those poor camels and horses! In the UK it is only the voters that get sacrified - after the election...

4:55 PM  

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