Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mali's Music and Mines

     My ITunes now has enough African music loaded to keep any fading memories alive  for as long as I have ears.  Grammy award winner Toumani Diabate was a highlight, but more so was making many new friends in Mali. Locals are always very interested, and happy to have tourists around, making chance meetings sometimes difficult to end.

     Ibrahim Diabate was one of those chance meetings at the Diplomate in Bamako while listening to Toumani. We soon became friends and a few days later went to see his village, "Kela." The lack of running water or power didn't really mater. The women had cooked meals waiting, buckets of water filled to shower with, and a cooler with ice & beer nearby.   At night the village gathered and put on a traditional concert. During the day we went to the river for a swim, or visited his friends at the nearby gold mines.
The men were busy building a bar, now that huts for visitors have been completed. Next is a roof over a holding tank to collect rain water instead of pulling it up from the well.
        I learned that swiming in the Niger river is probably NOT the smartest thing to do,after loosing a few pounds to some virus. The gold mining as you see in pictures is not the big money operation of the Chinese or Canadians, but hundreds of families work together to make a few dollars in tough conditions.

Young men dig holes 200 feet or more in the ground, lower small pails into the shaft and drag them up. Young girls beat the pail of dirt with wooden posts so the older women can pan for any gold. Others work to keep shafts from filling with water, or from caving in.
      This is about 10 miles from the Guinea border.

Niger River, not a great place to swim

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