Tuesday, December 01, 2015


The sign to Hotel Djenné Djenno still stands by the Carrefour:  the turning to Djenné from the main road to Mopti. It is a little weather beaten and faded but it is still there, and it is all still true: there is a hotel, there are chambres climatisées and there is a bar and restaurant, against all odds... There is a plethora of other signs there advertising other hotels or guest houses and various aid schemes etc, but most have fallen and most have are long since lost their meaning.

A little closer to Djenné, just as one has crossed the Bac , the ferry across the Bani there is another sign advertising the guest house ‘Village de Amis’. That was conceived as a budget  tourist hostel by a Frenchman with a Malian partner during the heyday sometimes in 2008/9 (picture above from that time).  The Frenchman has not been back for years, but the place was still up and running until a couple of weeks ago due to the Malian partner’s tenacity and business sense: he turned the place into a brothel. It was a very popular establishment by all accounts and the girls were recruited from Burkina Faso. But there were grumblings of discontent by the pious population of Djenné, which lies a kilometre or so away. Finally the Imam himself allegedly warned during Friday prayers that he would personally go and shut the place down if such unholy practises continued. In the face of such opposition the Malian partner shut the brothel down.

I am turning my thoughts to Djenné and my imminent return with both excitement and trepidation.  Keita is quite well now and receiving his last Velcade treatments this week. I feel fine and will hopefully receive my all clear when I return to the Tropical Disease hospital on the ninth, the day before I leave for Mali. It seems that I had a particularly nasty attack of amoebic dysentery which had travelled into my liver and had not been treated properly in Mali.
I am committed to Djenné for another two years because of the new projects that have just started at the Djenné Manuscript Library and for which I am responsible. But I go back with some fear: not for my own safety ( although I am sure I am a kidnap target) but I worry that I may not have enough enthusiasm and stamina to see it out.
 It is a lonely place now Djenné...


Blogger Unknown said...

Stay strong Sophie! Most importantly, you and Keita are in better health! All the best, IG

3:31 PM  
Blogger David said...

Unbelievable news about Keita, and long may it continue. Another wonder courtesy of Sarin Industries.

Somehow not so lonely when you're there, I'm sure. But I know you mean lonely for you. First we will toast your smashed plates of 2005.

5:08 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Imri. If I only had some more people like you to accompany me for those sunset drinks all would be well! and david yes indeed! looking forward to the eighth!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

You'll have many good memories to carry you along, not least the 10th anniversary of the gallery, with you as its first exhibitor. Thrilling that your Keita is doing well. And that you are too. Enjoy the remainder of your stay, and may you have a safe journey home.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Pascal et Monique said...

On te souhaite un bon retour dans ton pays d'adoption et on espère que tu vas retrouver bien vite l'énergie nécessaire pour t'y sentir à nouveau bien, même si les temps ne sont pas des plus roses... ni là ni ailleurs! Take care!

9:04 AM  
Blogger Andy Rayner said...

Happy returns... We were sad to see Peace Corps Pull out of Sikasso last week. Tourism has got to be the worst profession in Mali right now. Good healing and hopefully the term will be fruitful and encouraging.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Laurent said...

Very best wishes to you and to Keita. Hopefully 2016 will bring you happiness and good health.

3:51 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you all for your kind support. In one week exactly I will be boarding the p1ane!
I feel full of hope now- it will be good!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Gilliane said...

Sophie the BRAVE. I am full of admiration for you. I'm sure your indomitable spirit will triumph!!

7:54 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I tend to think this story has been repeated for thousands of years. My husband has a project on a small island far from the U.S. and he will come to my conclusions, but more painfully.

12:20 PM  

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