Friday, August 08, 2014

Diabolo 2: The Soap making and painting

Yesterday we went to see the Soap Woman whose name is really Djenneba. She had taken a bucket of ashes from her supply of  burned millet stalks which she stores  in several sacks ready to be used when needs be. The burning happens at the end of the harvest in the fields, and I now understand the meaning of all the fires which are dotted around the landscape at certain times of the year:  the millet stalks are burned to produce ashes which will be transformed into  potassium, used in cooking and in bogolan production. We eat it in the West too, surely? But it must be hidden in some other form. Perhaps it is lurking  in the Corn Flakes? Potassium  is an element. I find all this rather mysterious and poetic, as if we are tapping into  deep and ancient knowledge... who knows, maybe we will stumble across  the philosopher’s stone by mistake? This sense of mystery was enhanced by the conversation during the bogolan painting in Aissata’s mud vestibule later, when we talked about Tabato, Maman’s village. (It was Maman, not Dembele that accompanied me today) Aissata said Tabato used to have the best Marabouts in the old days. ‘Is that true Maman?’ I wanted to know. Maman seemed strangely bashful  at first but eventually told me that Tabato had been a village ‘where people did not pray’ (i.e. animist )until fairly recently. Aissata meant that she thought the Animist practices had been more efficient in getting things done...


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