Monday, October 11, 2010

An ECU delivery and Vieux Farka Touré

On Thursday at 4 pm, Land Rover packed and ready to go with teaching materials for the San region 'Ecoles à Classe Unique', I climbed into the front passenger seat, buckled in and Oumar and I set out for San.  With Africando music on repeat on the tape player and popcorn and a candy bar between us, Oumar recounted all the trips he's taken as a driver for NGOs as we snacked our way to San.  Oumar's memory amazed me as he listed not only the year and location of his trips to places like Kidal, Niger and Chad but also the full names of all passengers on each mission.  Popcorn long gone and fingers sticky from the chocolate, we pulled into the first ECU village by 10:30 pm where we unloaded the materials and a metal case and were on our way to San by 11. 

Two of the trunks with materials inside (l) and the materials all unloaded (r)          
The next morning, waiting on a second load of teaching materials from Bamako (for three other villages), I made a trip out to my village to visit Annie, Esayi and the new volunteer, Jim.  Rainy season continues to the bafflement of most and to the dismay of anyone trying to navigate mud paths to villages 'en brusse' - getting out there took over twice the amount of time it should have.  I wasn't expecting to get back to village before going home in December and I was surprised by my nervous feelings as I left San.  Five weeks after leaving though, unsurprisingly, not much has changed and my nervous feelings melted as soon as I saw Annie, Esayi and baby Christine.  It felt great to see Jim in his new home and answer questions he had and also to see how well he fits in with the Coulibaly groove.  I was never nervous about him fitting in but seeing how much folks like him with my own eyes and how well he is adjusting was comforting all the same.  Annie has also put on 3 kilos (about 6 pounds) since our visit to the health clinic in August and Christine's little baby body has fattened up all over - not just in her belly. 

Oumar and I returned to San at 8 pm after delivering the rest of the materials that afternoon and made our ways to our respective jatigis (hosts) in San.  I got to greet the butigi owner Bacho and his brother Moulie and the official San-kaw tailor Abu.  I told Abu how everyone in Bamako loves my outfits and raves about how good my tailor is to which Abu replied he was looking for a studio in Bamako. The competition is fierce so I said I'd keep an eye out for vacant shops. 
Vieux Farka Touré and the band (photo - Pamela)
Oumar dropped me off at my house just after 4 pm on Saturday where I showered and got ready for a Vieux Farka Touré concert at the French Cultural Center.  Beforehand, I attended a birthday celebration dinner at my boss's home complete with gouda cheese, pudding, champagne and presents for the guests.  Everyone was going to the show so after the party we loaded into cars to get to the center where for 3,000 CFA (about $6) I saw one of the most famous Malian musicians perform to a sold-out crowd of about 350 people.  The concert included a lot of flashing, colored lights, use of a fog machine and encouragement to get up and boogey.  The whole band wore varying degrees of intricate bazin boubous - Le Vieux's the most embroidered and shiny of them all.  The bassist wore grey converses and the woman I was staring at all night in the front row with an exquisite pink and red bazin complet with puffy sleeves turned out to be Le Vieux's wife.  The older, reserved, ex-pat crowd isn't what Le Vieux is used to as he consistently referred to our relaxed atmosphere and calm demeanor but it was an awesome concert nonetheless.  In the end there was lots of dancing and with such an intimate setting, time for one-on-one greeting and photos afterwards.
me and Vieux Farka Touré (photo Pamela)
The next morning I went downstairs to greet my host family including Madame Diallo and her steady stream of visitors and tell them about my visit to San and the Vieux Farka Touré concert.  Madame Diallo asked who Vieux was and I said a Malian singer.  'Why did you go to visit him,' she asked.  'Did he die?'  I guess he needs to work on his national fan base!


Anonymous said...

Marvelous! Great pics. Glad Jim is feeling so at home. Hope you remembered me to Bacho! xoxo mom

Anonymous said...

that's hilarious about Vieux's (lack of) national fan base!
-sp in fr

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