Mali – Choses que j’adore*
Yesterday and today have been busy. I have met a series of Deputés and Ministeres, and other high-ranking officials, including the Minister of Culture (awesome awesome man), and I have given my talk twice so far – first to a small group (the Education Team at USAID here) where I lucked out and got to present in English, and today to a group of students enrolled in a teacher training program here in Mali. Additionally I have wrangled one visit to a “marché” so far to shop for some souvenirs
In photos. First up, three photos I took at the National Museum of Mali, in the textiles building/exhibit, before I got yelled at for taking photos. ”Yelled at” includes an attempt at extorting “a present” from me in order to not report me to the authorities. Kathleen (my host here, from the Embassy) simply replied that he should definitely report us to the authorities. While that stopped the requests for presents and reiteration that photos were not allowed, we did subsequently have a shadow through the rest of our stay at the museum
None the less, the textiles were interesting:
The rest of the exhibit was truly awesome – there were examples of textiles from various tribes, indigo-dyed fabrics, clothing examples (some quite old), etc.
The buildings in Mali are an eclectic bunch. There are a slew of shacks like this:
This one is actually in pretty good shape. Many have half of the thatched roof/sides gone; many simply have the upright sticks and something resembling a roof, many are constructed out of whatever materials could be scrounged and look nothing like this. I assume folks sleep in them; they’re there all day; they sometimes have stuff for sale (eg., mangos, eggs, or random crap). There are babies and children everywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one fuss- well, I was walking by one today who was sitting in front of a bowl of mangos, and mom liberated the 5 inch sharp knife it had found (the baby was I’m sure only about a year old – not yet verbal). She squawked for a minute. Most of the babies I’ve seen are carried in a pouch on Mom’s butt – until they’re about three I believe.
Other buildings are a range. Some are beautiful and well-maintained. Some are in various stages of construction, which can last so long so as to start deteriorating before construction is finished. (There’s something about property taxes – they don’t start paying taxes on the building until it is occupied- so many remain in indefinite construction or something):
The food is excellent – talk about locally sourced and fresh. There seems to be a limited menu at most restaurants (mind you, “limited” is only in reference to the US’ overabundance of choices at restaurants….), and often it includes skewers (kabobs) of either beef or fish, and some chicken dish. If you order something like goat, it was likely butchered recently, and prior to that it was wandering around on the streets. See, like this – which is a half a block away from the hotel (end of same block the hotel is on):
Being herded down the street:
My visit to the students in a teacher training program remains my favorite. Check out these future teachers of Bamako:
Tomorrow, I visit the school for the deaf (can’t WAIT), and the afternoon is work-free (Happy Jour D’Afrique everyone), and a shopping trip has been planned. Thursday is a crazy full day with the biggest presentation (to the National Assembly, as well as a meeting with the president of the National Assembly). Friday will probably be a light day but these things can change.
*Things which have me smitten