Friday, February 18, 2011

Because Ma said so

welcome home!  my apartment sits on the roof of Ma's home

My apartment in Bamako rests solidly on the roof of my landlord’s home.  N’dyie Diallo, aka ‘Ma’, aka my landlord, runs the coop.  She divies up the chores to her hired help.  She dictates the menu for the household.  And, unfailingly, she directs a running commentary on my strengths and shortcomings.  We need these types of people in our lives though, don’t we?  

Djelika, you need to give me this hat!
 When I recently confessed to Ma that it had been a few days since I had washed my hair because the water was so cold (I don’t have a hot water heater but for most of the year it’s a moot point considering the heat) she looked at me, aghast.  ‘Djelika you can’t tell people that!  You must bathe at least 4 or 5 times a day!!’ 
Arnoire is Ma's grandson and a bit of a troublemaker who likes to paint on the walls with his troop of friends but when they're so darn cute it's hard to stay mad for long.
they write 'brigade men'on the walls all around the house.  i suggested 'brigade boys' but the idea didn't stick
When I suggested to Ma getting a sink in my kitchen she scrunched up her face in distaste.  'Why would you need a sink?' she asked. 'To wash dishes after dinner,' I replied.  'But you only know how to cook macaroni, what do you need a sink for??'   

Purchasing, preparing and serving food for as many people as these pots feed isn't easy!

As much as Ma likes to rag on my way of living, I kind of understand her brusque attitude.  Being a woman in Mali isn't easy - when you want to be heard you have to yell.  And when Ma wants to be heard - people (including me!) listen.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Festival sur le Niger

This past week I had the glorious opportunity to attend the 7th annual Festival sur le Niger.  It's an  international music festival held in Segou - about 3 1/2 hours north of Mali - and on the Niger river.  During the day I manned a USAID/PHARE booth with co-workers and talked about the PHARE program with eclectic tourists and curious Malians and at night we danced together on the edge of the river to the kora, electric guitars and djembés from all over West Africa.  

Here are some of the artists I saw:  Ami Wassidie, the Gnawas of Agadir (Morocco), Thialey Harby, Vieux Farka Touré, Future Takamba & Horst Timmers, Kassé Mady Diabaté, Bako Dagnon, Bassekou Kouyaté, Sayon Camara,  Issa Bakayoko, Oumou Sangaré, Toumani Diabaté & Symmetric Orchestra, Ismaïl Lo (Sénégal).  My favorites were Bassekou Kouyaté for the coordinated outfits and rockin' tunes and Oumou Sangaré and Ismail Lo for their ability to work the crowd and get everyone to shake their booty.  I'm not a music connoisseur but I know what I like and I definitely liked getting to see these shows!

One sweet grandmother came to the PHARE stand and once she heard the interactive radio show playing on one of our radios exclaimed: 'I listen to your show everyday!  Is this Moussa??!'* as she pointed to Kanté, a co-worker who runs the studio that produces our interactive radio lessons.  Kanté is not the voice of Moussa but he took the opportunity to tell the cute, Malian grandma about more of what our program does and encouraged her to make sure her grandbabies (grades 1-3) are receiving the broadcasts in their schools!  The festival was a unique opportunity to share the incredible work PHARE does with foreigners and Malians alike.  Vive l'education au Mali!

Here are some photos from the trip - I hope you enjoy!
7th edition of the Festival sur le Niger in Segou, Mali

Sunset in Segou and before the stage lights up with night time shows

The real reason for going - talking about USAID/PHARE!

our pretend classroom to show folks how the program actually works

African and Cuban dancing shows happened throughout the days and all over the festival grounds

With Hélène-a co-worker from PHARE.  She taught me how to tie my head-wrap in this most beautiful bow!

More mid-day dancing (this is a Bobo group which is one of the 12 major ethnicities in Mali)

I could have watched the dancing all day!

With Mamadou Kanté, Chief-of-Party for Le Programme de Gouvernance Partagée (Program for Shared Governance) who also happens to be the author of the textbooks I used to learn Bambara!

see more pictures i took at the festival here!
*(interactive radio lessons are broadcast on ORTM, the Malian national radio station, Monday-Friday at 10:30 and 11:10 a.m. during the school year)
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