giovedì 22 marzo 2012

Festival sur le Niger

After a few days in Bamako we decided to visit Segou to attend the Festival of African Music called "Festival sur le Niger" which is famous even abroad. Segou has nothing special to attract tourists and during these 4 days Festival accommodations are expensive and difficult to get. We arrived in the evening and after some quarrel with a stubborn local teacher who first tried to make us stay illegally in a local school dorm, we agreed with another teacher to stay in his tiny room for less than 10 euros. We got some help by a local friendgirl who took us to a dibiterie to have dinner with pieces of roasted goat, the quality was not good and in general while travelling in Mali we missed so much Senegalese delicious food. Once at the Festival's ticket counter I discovered that Malians, or better black skin french speaking, people could attend the 4 days Festival for an honest 10.000CFA (around 15,00 euro), toubab like me had to pay 20.000CFA EACH day....unless I could speak fluently Tamasheq, the language of the white skinned Touareg! The spectacle was good but not great. I liked so much the music of the Congolese (DRC) Lokua Kanza, I also liked the interesting instrumental music of Meiway especially the xhylophon but I didn't like at all the local Abdoulaye Diabatè. This last is considered a star in Mali and in West Africa, spectators were singing, shouting and deeply emotioned with him, well probably if I could understand his songs in Bambara I would also have loved him. At 1am it started the Open air disco but most of people decided to go out of the Festival area and enjoy the streets of Segu by night. No need to say that this was the moment I liked most, to walk around street vendors, to taste small cakes and to meet new friends from all around the world; a friendly and cute girl from Niamey (Niger)who were selling handmade brodery, 3 girls from Bamako who studied Law, a fat Malian guy who was eating with me at a street table talking about the small Terminus disco (the people who go there are at terminus too ehehe), a Libanese who run a minimarket and who has been living in Segu for 30 years. He told me that in Libanon there are 4 million inhabitants whereas abroad there are 14millions, most of them in Brazil and New York city. He liked a lot Malians as they are nice and friendly, but he added that Segu, apart from these 4 Festival days is a quite boring place to live.
The following day we spent the strolled around the Niger side, near the barge where the Festival takes place, we visited many different market stalls, some of them selling silver and leather wonderful Touareg handcraft, others selling excellent table clothes, jackets and batik realized with Bogolongs technic, typical of Mali, and finally we had a lovely conversation with 2 girls explaining to African women the many different option of contraceptives, reminding me that the huge number of wonderful kids I saw in Africa can be a problem for their family who often lack of financial means to feed and give them a good education. We then met 2 nice sisters of Bamako that we knew the night before and had a small brunch with them, it was really interesting to hear that their father was the first African student of the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, that there still is the habit of Female clitoris excision in Mali and that they also have been subjected to it too and finally their decision to get virgin to their wedding ...once they would have met the man of their life!

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