Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bamoye’s Guitar

Keita's friend Bamoye and I have some things in common :
First and importantly KarKar makes us cry. KarKar (Boubakar Traoré) is a Malian troubadour who pares down his performance by guitar and voice to the bare essentials : there is not a word  or a chord which is not necessary. And what is there is extremely simple :  just love and loss, love and reunion ; love and loss. All of Kar Kar is about love.
Now, Bamoye is a Romantic and a kinded spirit. He is also a welder. I had entrusted him with my version of the Mies van der Rohe chairs, and he did the sample  beautifully. The problem is when I then gave him a big order for 16 chairs and bought all the material, he handed it all over to his apprentices, who made it all into a dog’s dinner. I was extremely annoyed , but this is a very long time ago now. Since then we have seen each other a lot of times : Bamoye is one of Keita’s best friends .  Bamoye plays the guitar : he did not have one of his own, but used to come to the hotel to play the guitar we have here. Bamoye made a song for me with the lyrics : ‘Sophie Ya Fama!',  (Sophie, forgive me!’) this song was very moving and  KarKar himself could not have done better and of course I forgave him- I had forgiven him a long time ago.

About four years ago when there was plenty of tourists here and many musicians returning from Timbuktu’s Festival in the Desert, there was a young man here with his guitar. He ran into  Bamoye one night and they stayed up on my sunset terrace almost from sunset to sunrise and played together - Bamoye played the hotel guitar and the young musician asked him to teach him the song ‘Forgive me Sophie’, which he did. As a thank you present the young musician gave Bamoye his guitar when he left !

So Bamoye played his guitar which he cherished more than anything that he owned. One day Bamoye had to go away for a few days. While he was away an acquaintance arrived at his house and said to Bamoye’s wife : ‘ Give me Bamoye’s guitar, he told me I could have it when he was away’. So Bamoye’s wife gave it to him. When Bamoye came back home there was no guitar. ‘Where is my guitar ?’ asked Bamoye. ‘I gave it to your friend’ said Bamoyes’s wife.
What followed was a high tension drama which involved a large number of Djenné inhabitants who took different sides in the dispute which ensued . When Bamoye finally  found the guitar it was ruined. He had never given his consent for his acquaintance to take the guitar and use it.  Bamoye became so incensed that he  wanted to divorce his wife. He banished her from his house with their three children. She was living with her parents for several weeks until both Keita and I intervened and said ‘ You can’t divorce your wife for the sake of a guitar !’ The rest of Djenne filed passed Bamoyes’s abode and said about the same thing.  Eventually Bamoye took her back . When I told Birgit this story she said : ‘Why can’t you divorce your wife for the sake of a guitar ? I totally understand . It was his most precious thing in the entire world !’
And last night Bamoye came to play the hotel guitar….


Blogger mary said...

Oh, Kar Kar loved him too at Segou music festival. What a voice. We felt that we were in the Mississipi delta in 1925! Really enjoy listening to him on Spottify here now.
Keep blogging, keep us informed and entertained.
Many greetings from the North of England on this bright frosty morning and hopes that 2014 will be a busier year for DjenneDjenno and MaliMali. Mary

11:04 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Mary! Wishing you a really good new year, and hoping finally to get to see you in the North in this coming year!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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3:25 AM  

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