Name: Annasoura Touré
Langauges spoken: Songhai (first), Bambara, French
Langauges spoken: Songhai (first), Bambara, French
Birthday: January 5, 1985
Occupation: Travel agency assistant
Marital status: Single but already scooped up!
“Come over for lunch and to meet the family,” Annasoura said to Abdoulaye over the phone. “Can I bring a friend?” he asked. “Bien sûr,” she replied. Of course.
And so began our friendship with Annasoura Touré. I say our because I was the friend tagging along with Abdoulaye and that lunch was the first time both of us met her. Annasoura is the older sister of a friend of a friend of Abdoulaye's – both of whom became actual friends – neither of whom are legends. Let me explain. Annasoura's younger sister, Zouheirta, was friends with a friend of Abdoulaye's from Guinea. Abdoulaye and Zouheirta chatted on Facebook and when Zouheirta learned Abdoulaye would be coming to Mali for his veterinary research she passed along the number of one of her sisters. “You've got to stop by and say hello,” she wrote, unable to meet with Abdoulaye herself since she was studying in Morocco.
Eager to spend more time with Abdoulaye, and curious to meet Annasoura, I immediately accepted his invitation to join him for lunch in the way that we accept to go places early on in relationships we aren't sure we really want to because we're so excited to spend time together. But I was nervous. It is difficult to explain what I will call 'the toubab anxiety factor' but I will do my best.
Sometimes, as wonderful as Malians generally are (and you can generalize here), meeting new Malians can be a little overwhelming. The curiosity about others and immediate interest Malians take in others' lives that we don't have in the States (I hope out of our desire to respect privacy and not that we're just disinterested) is omnipresent in Mali. And while this curiosity facilitates integration into the Malian culture, it also means you have a lot of questions and commentary on your foreignness which sometimes you just don't feel like hearing. Sometimes I would like to walk outside and not have people notice I am not Malian by screaming 'Toubabuuuu!!!!!'. Sometimes I would like to speak and not have someone marvel that I can communicate with them – 'I be bamanankan meh-wa?????' Sometimes I would like to go to the friend of a friend of a friend's house for lunch and to meet her family without becoming the center of attention.* And that's exactly what happened with our visit to Annasoura.
That first lunch with Annasoura, and what has now turned into many dinners, visits and calls to say hello, was indicative of the girl herself and what our friendship has become: relaxed, full of laughter, welcoming. While her family did joke about marrying me off to one of the many Songhai men in their compound; they made the same jokes and in the same tone for Abdoulaye and Annasoura's sisters. Rather than feeling like an extraordinary Djelika I felt like a wonderfully ordinary Jennifer. Her mom embraced, literally, both Abdoulaye and I as we entered the living room and Annasoura's father – reminding me of my own step-father – was content to be left alone on the couch watching television while we gabbed over rice and sauce. Going to her house for lunch felt like going home (that is, if everyone in my home spoke at least 3 languages and had their origins in a city on the border of the Sahara desert – but you get the idea :)
Annasoura studied at the University of Bamako and logistics and transport at a specialty school. She currently works as an assistant at a travel agency called Fly in ACI 2001 (+00 223 2029 4247) and would like to one day work in import and exports. Learn some more about this wonderful girl I'm lucky to call a friend:
Where were you born?
I was born in Bamako but my family is from Gao.
What's your favorite place in Bamako?
My favorite place is Sotuba. It's on the banks of the Niger river and one of the few places where you can experience nature, calmness and clean wind in the city. If it's a question of restaurants my favorite is the Lagoon which I like for the same reasons I like Sotuba except there is also food :)
What's your favorite city in Mali?
That would be Gao, my native region. While I was born in Bamako and most of my family is here, whenever I go to Gao I feel like I am going home. I don't know how to explain it – words escape me! The sense of hospitality is overwhelming – family or not, people you barely know will kill a goat in your honor when you come to visit and then fight over who gets to host you for your next meal. And the stars at night – it's incredible up there. You can sense the adventure with your car getting stuck in the sand – it's total desert there!
What are 3 reasons why Mali is a great place to be?
- The hospitality.
- The sense of family.
- The desire to help one another.
What is another country you would like to visit and why?
I'd love to visit Brazil since I've seen so much of it on soap operas and films on ORTM (Mali's national television station). Beach Copacabana!! I would also like to visit India since I love the way they dress and the United Arab Emirates to visit Dubai – you can get everything there! I've heard that people in Dubai have so much money they don't know what to do with it and so they build these incredible buildings. I'd love to see the architecture.
What's your favorite quality in a person?
It's important to me that people are nice and have a sense of humor and aren't afraid to smile.
What's your favorite proverb?
Les conséquences corrigent mieux que les conseils.
Consequences teach better than advice.
Let people experience something for themselves to learn what's right and they'll learn more than anything you could have told them.
Thank you Annasoura!
*Some of these experiences can also be wonderful – I don't mean to sound ungrateful – just not all the time.