Friday, January 27, 2017

Almamy Korobara, Imam of Djenné 1993-2017

                              One week ago the funeral was held of the Imam of Djenné.
 After the 2pm Friday prayers Djenné's male population prayed over his body which was  laid out on the square  before the great Mosque .

May he rest in Peace.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A lighter mood.

In the interest of accuracy and entente cordiale I think I had better mention that (some of ) the journalists I attacked so rudely last week did actually come to Djenné in the end and we had a very nice, peaceful and useful time I believe.
And someone sent me this charming memento.
To think that Tintin was 'ere !
My favourite Grand Marabout Yelfa Djeité- probably to the lower right in the drawing has been put on the list for possible new Imams...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fed Up with Lily-Livered Journalists

I understand that tourists may not be willing to visit Djenné or Mali because of the perceived danger and the blanket 'NO!' which emanates from all foreign office travel advisory websites. But I am less tolerant of the journalists and  other professionals who are making their living from reporting from here. What happened to the intrepid war correspondent? Why do these people think they are able to do their job- often highly paid- from the pool side in Bamako?
This year started well for the hotel. Or at least so it seemed on paper. There were going to be several teams of journalists and others arriving, making documentaries, articles etc. about Djenné. But one by one these teams are cancelling their reservations. WHY? What on earth has changed?
If you are frightened by the distant events in Gao, which seems to be the case, why did you chose to be a journalist in the first place? And I am talking also about  those journalists who feel they can carry out their job in Timbuktu, watched over by UN security forces, but feel that Djenné is too dangerous for them. Go home!
Nothing has ever happened in Djenné : still! Sure it is possible that it will one day but meanwhile, surely, as a journalist, your work must continue? You are not a dentist. You are not a 'management consultant'. You are not an insurance broker. You are a journalist. Do your job or if you do not dare, change it! Go and take up your alotted place amongst the safe jobs of your home country where you belong.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Farewell Sau.

I am still here, although I have been lying low for some time. Now speaking from Bamako, but leaving for Djenne once more tomorrow morning in the old Merc at 6.30.
I am in Bamako for the condoléances for Keita’s Tante. A lovely old woman who I saw just two weeks ago when I arrived in Mali again after my European trip. She was  so full of life and energy.  She hugged me and seemed genuinely happy to see me: the widow of Keita, her favourite.  She was struck down by a heart attack three days ago and a very large funeral was held yesterday. Above is a picture of Keita and La Tante in 2016, a couple of month before Keita left us.  I was certain she was going to live to a hundred. She was certainly in better health than I am- or at least so it seemed.

Once more I sat yesterday with the mourning women in the house where Keita grew up for another funeral. It is always a cathartic experience- one shields one’s face with one’s headscarf and then it is OK to just cry. Tears flow for the person deceased, for others that died before, for one’s own future demise and for whatever one feels like crying for. All very useful for clearing away bottled up anxiety.

I was hoping to leave tomorrow morning for Timbuktu on the UN plane. I had been invited for a conference staged by UNESCO concerning the pillage of Malian artifacts such as those found in archaeological excavations and the sale/export of ancient manuscripts. But because of the terrorist attack on a military camp in Gao this morning which has claimed up to 50 casualties the conference in Timbuktu has been postponed to a later date. The UN plane which was to take us to Timbuktu has been requisitioned  for the transport of  wounded to Bamako for specialist care.
More soon inshallah.