This is a bridge story, to get us from here to there.
Kind of get us finally out of Guinea, into Bamako, meet Andy and his biofuel / chocolate diesel truck team, dance away with a crowd of 7000 on the galleries of the Bamako stadium to Tiken Jah Fakoly in the midst of the post Tabaski, pre Christmas, pre New Year silly season, people freaked out. I follow Andy to Mopti on 24th of Dec to get completely plastered in a nightclub between Sevare and Mopti, spend more time in Mopti, while Andy heads to Tombouctou and returns from Timbuktu (they pledged they could do London to Timbuktu on fuel made of chocolate), I even find time to play my Ovation guitar, and get drawn into David Lambkin's (wiki) Hanging Tree novel about Africa, ancestors, witchcraft, woodoisme and quantum physics. In the end I even like Mopti with its hasslers, before eventually leaving with Andy to Bandiagara cross those cliffs of Bandiagara at Kanikombole, those famous falaise Dogon that although already a while in West Africa and Mali in particular I never managed to see, and again not wander along, as we continue to Ouagadougou. Ouaga from 30th of Dec to 3rd of Jan.
Ouagadougou remains largely unexplored, - and it does not matter, New Year's eve comes, still too lazy to make an attempt to visit bars and clubs Ouaga is famous for. I frankly don't even know why I am here. We have contemplated spending Christmas in Ghana on the beach or at least New Year, body surfing. I have had the plan to stay on for the African Cup of Nations.
But - then Andy was traveling down to Mali from Europe slower than expected and Ghana in 2007 started moving slowly out of reach. For me at the same time a completely different matter has been gaining importance and soon even my Africa Cup of Nations dreams in Ghana planned for Jan and Feb go up in smoke.
Since Guinea really I have thought fully and deeply about it. This is Ouagadougou, New Year's day, 2008, and Ghana has to wait I have a new plan.
I fly home.
I really need to fly home, and pack up my wife and Daniel and David our twin one year olds. She has had enough of Europe. Told her before.
And she cannot really fly down on her own. Airlines wouldn't let her with twin babies. And there might be a thing or two more that require me to be there.
Flying to Vienna, home?
When driving to Segou there was a misty sunset in our back. Hazy, yellowed dusty evening light, as we drove the savanna, still at dusk the nearly full moon rose, right in front of us as a large pale full moon disc. Spooky, beautiful the steppe around still in hazy yellow.
In Mopti sunsets were a bit clearer, and more orange over the Niger river, moon rose later end later every day, still pretty full it lit my surroundings well at night when I strummed my guitar. On my way back from Ouagadougou, a 850km drive to Bamako, and still an hour away from Bamako, that sundown on the left was again purer, an orange outlined ball of fire, gradually sinking between the bushes and trees on the horizon that sped by.
On that Afriqiyah plane from Bamako, via Ouagadougou, to Tripoli, over the Algerian or Libyan desert, and me so tired after 3 hours of delay, just before dawn, so late in the morning, just above the horizon in the east, there rises a barely visible unreal fraction of a crescent of a moon. Shortly later sunrise, still the Libyan desert. I close the pane and fall asleep again. Tripoli is friendly, Arab, Muslim.
Around noon, when I wake on my second plane ride approaching Geneva, snow covered French Alp peaks dazzle the eye that is used to sand and dust, no clouds, hundreds of peaks sun lit, many beyond 3000m of altitude, lined up side by side, rows of them one behind the other for many kilometers. What will await me?.
Back on the ground beer on the airport is shite, outside all overcast grey. Winter, January, Europe, beer that sucks, expensive wireless access, what a combi. I stick with beer, later take one more plane.
All well in Vienna with Hasna, Daniel and David.
Vienna, Rome, Casablanca, Alitalia. Friday 18th. Without having announced ourselves we arrive just before lunch. And there is always, - always a cous-cous for lunch on Fridays. Good timing does not happen by chance.
And Casa is watching the Africa Cup of Nations on TV every day, but Morocco does not last too long, they suspect me siding with Guinea, who beats Morocco 3:2 at one occasion. Of course I am indifferent. But this is not good enough, of course.
Still we eat more Moroccan food and I see my dentist, see lots of Hasna's family and eat even more food, taking the twins to Pasteur institute for yellow fever vaccinations, follow up on a few unpaid bills, have 16 passport photos for every family member done, eat even more oh so delicious home made Moroccan food, - and get the head ready to take the kids to (sub-Saharan) Africa. So what? Better - eat - some more, while we can.
I am watching the opening of Had the plan to be right there in Accra. And then things came differently. I chose to go and see my family.
Once we visit a branch of the family in the country. And Morocco is green in January.
Bamako to Segou, home?
The bridge story really gets us from Bamako back to Bamako.
Or better from (finally out of) Guinea into Segou.
In Segou we are back on the Festival sur le Niger, This is cool because Hasna and I restart right were we've left it 2 years ago. And our great twin boys Daniel and David are with us on the concerts till 2 in the morning. Well - really with Hasna and a nanny or two. As I am on stage most of the time, the only photographer on stage. I have been working on this, communicating with the organizers for nearly a month. Nearly ever since I passed here on 24th of Dec.
And stars are plenty. Habib Koité, Cheik Tidiane Seck, Les Esapoirs de Coronthie, Salif Keita, Mangala Camara, Bassékou Kouyaté to name a few. I am so glad we have made it.
Turn the page to see it all.
Festival sur le Niger, 4th edition, Segou, 2008. Donsow, hunters.
Donsow on the festival, - in 2006 on the festival then.