Week4: Jan30 - Feb5

expo & opening, festival, Senouku, Mme. Diao, leaving ...

Kids from Senouku
5 Fev 2011: Samedi – Kida went to work, I planned to breakfast and return to bed. I was napping when Fati called “wi bili” that someone was waiting for me downstairs. Ba, son of the household of Diarra, first bogolan maker of Segou (seemed to have started with the man now running the famous and well respected Ndomo atelier but has since worked alone). Diarra is a historian and artist with sons and a young daughter following in talent. Wonderful visit that ended with a purchase and a gift, an enormous gift to VFOM for educational purposes. A driver called for me and took me to Mme. Diao's house for lunch and a visit. I had seen her twice at the concerts and told her I wanted to get together before I left so she kidnapped me! It was great. She and her husband Oumar shared lunch from the harvests of her farm, she then sent me home to nap and later took me and Mamy off to the horse races! Did I know there were horse races? What a lot of fun. We then visited her farm. I did not go to the concerts that night, I was just too tired, but heard them from over the rooftops all night long. Turns out what I heard from 2am on was Habib Koite's birthday party at the espace culturel down just a few blocks away on the Rue de la Jeunesse.

4 Fev 2011: Vendredi – Senouku, Segou Region, east north east of Dioro. Kida Michel and I took a day trip to a Village Millenaire north-east of Diorro a city that looks a lot like Markala in spots. Senouku is a BEAUTIFUL village laid out along the bank of the Niger/Djoliba river, primary economy is fishing, millet and peanuts. More with photos on this one. We made it back by about 7:30 so after washing up and changing my clothes I went off to the Carpe Diem to see if the vernissage was still going on. There were people there but the formal event was over and Chab said that Wren and Anna had gone off to find dinner. I never found them, but stayed for the concerts because Toumani Diabate and Oumou Sangare were playing. Aminata and Bintu were in the stands for a bit, as was Leslie and Amsyl. This was the concert Leslie had been waiting for. Hama ws there, but sitting with Daffe and the other dignitaries. Dancing, laughing all night long. 

3 Fev 2011: Jeudi – vernissage (“a varnishment” or as we know it, an opening reception) at the Kore Gallery of Art, on festival grounds. Had a lovely afternoon visit with Yah at his office. He gives me gifts directly related to what we chat about – red wine, honey, honey with royal jelly and pure royal jelly powder as well as the gift of time on his iPad with internet connection. He also played NPR for a few minutes just as Fresh Air was coming on. I was surprised at how charmed I was by the sound of US American voices, how nostalgic. Met briefly with two young musicians (photo) of the group Sangaraka who played at the morning Junior Chamber of Commerce event that I missed last Saturday morning. The idea is to connect young musicians like this group to the festival jumelage, raise funds to send them to Richmond during the Folk Festival. While listening to Idrissa I remembered that Bassedou Kouyate would be playing tonight - ha! They were wonderful! Met the couturier from Bamako, Cherif, who adapts contemporary fashions to local materials and bogolon techniques. It turns out his paintings were in the Talents of the City competiton that I juried. Tomorrow is the opening of the Centre Culturel Koré in Sébougou – beautiful facility for music, visual and theatrical arts under the organization of the Foundation for the Festival Sur Le Niger. I won't be there because Kida and Michel and I will be on a day trip to visiting Senouku, a Village Millenaire situated just beyond the small city of Dioro, with Kida and Michel. Hope we make it in time to stop by Wren's vernissage at Carpe Diem. The Center would be a good connection for Elegba Folklore Society and other cultural organizations in Virginia, including the Folk Festival.

2 Fev 2011: Mercredi – installation, opening ceremony of the festival and first night of concerts for me and a few others of the artists. The installation didn't take place until the evening and it went very well. It looks wonderful. Wren, Dolo, Hama and I had 3 each, Leslie and Issa had 2 each, Anna and Amsyl had 1 each installed. Wren split her time between the workshop and the installation of her exhibit at Carpe Diem, which was going very slowly because Chab was entirely overbooked; he was contracted to do the workshop and CCKore museum exhibits (curation and installations) by the Festival Foundation and that left his own gallery as a last priority.

1 Fev 2011: Mardi – moved slowly today and arrived at the gallery close to 3pm. Mme Dolo was there, no other artists were there so I wandered around a bit. Selection and interviews for the foundation's documentary took most of the rest of the day, but (I've lost track here) later that evening Dolo arrived at the Foundation very excited asking me to come with him, our “papers” had been recovered.

31 Jan 2011: Lundi - police and foundation interviews
Today we began our video-taped interviews for the foundation. Chab was there to escort us through a process of explaining our workshop efforts and the resulting work, followed by the collective selection of the pieces for the show. That was a little tense, but in the end done with logic, resulting in a good exhibition.

I feel extremely relieved that Madou's potential complicity in the case has been resolved and that part of the drama is over. At least half our time last week was taken up by dealing with the theft, which in any circumstance is lousy. But we have seen the way it triggers suspicion and actions that can cause harm far beyond the loss of valuables. The theft of trust between friends and colleagues becomes the true crime. 

30 Jan 2011: Dimanche - Kida came back today?? with Michel – a man-friend from France (didn't get his last name. He is in love with Ina Tall, neighbor of Kida's in Segou and he came to visit her and check on his humanitarian project. Turned out to be a good addition to the mix and I enjoyed our chats together, including what it can mean to be a non-African in Africa. Was that different because he is a white Frenchman and I am a mixed Black US American? yep, but also no. Just because I am of African descent doesn't mean I know anything about living there or that I am anyone more than a guest in the house of those who welcomed me in for a time. Do I want to outgrow that role? Oh yes. Can I do it from home? No.