Finally back on track! This feels good! HOPEFULLY I will remain vigilant and not fall drastically behind again, but no promises. As time goes on, our days seem to grow shorter and fuller, and exhaustion must be factored in. And homework…which we have now. Never a lot, but enough that between it and exploring Bamako, finding time to write is tricky.
This weekend, we visited Kita, hometown of griot and author Massa Makan Diabaté. Of course, Cherif met Diabaté, and has since written a book on his life and works. Pretty cool. Anyhow, we had just finished reading Monsieur Diabaté’s “Le lieutenant de Kouta”, all of which was set in his hometown and was (loosely) based/inspired by a lieutenant who lived there. So, we hopped in some cars, and set out to meet both the author and the lieutenant’s family.
The visit was pretty interesting – the people we met were incredible. Diabaté’s family were all delightful, and showed us a recording of him talking on the radio about the challenges of converting oral tradition into literature. Meeting the Lieutenant’s family was very interesting as well, and it really helped enlighten me on his character. It was an interesting house – right next to the market, and FILLED with animals. He was apparently particularly fond of birds, and kept guinea fowl, chickens, ducks, and pigeons. The pigeons were in a tree above us, and I mistrusted them from the start. Rightfully so, as they ended up gracing me with their droppings before we left. That was fun…but I was wearing black and had tissues, so it was ok. We also saw kittens! That was also exciting. They were tiny and adorable and I really wanted to scoop one up, but I didn’t. I didn’t get the rabies shot before leaving, so I judged it best to leave them be. But they were so dang cute!!
(This expresses my feelings at seeing those kittens…I may or may not have sung this…)
We also visited the imams at the Franco-Arab school. These men were incredible, and so very welcoming. They told us a bit about their role in the village, and told us how pleased they were by our visit and gave us their benediction. “Your race doesn’t matter anymore,” they told us, “You’re in our family now.” And sure enough, upon discovering that my last name was Keita, two of the imams took my hand excitedly and called me their daughter. The tolerance in this village is astounding. If the world could operate like Kita, I think there would be world peace. Kita has a prefect, a traditional chief, several prominent griot families (both Diabatés and Kouyatés), imams, and Catholic priests (Catholicism is also popular in the village) and SOMEHOW, all these powerful social figures exist together. They tolerate each other, and give each other space. Granted there are problems every now and then, but in general everyone coexists peacefully and tolerantly. Seeing that was the most astounding part of this visit for me.
The only problem with Kita, beyond the extreme heat (it broke 100 when we were there), was that EVERYONE got sick. Getting sick is never fun, getting sick abroad is less fun, getting sick abroad in a tiny village with no meds or way of cooling off is really un-fun. So I think some were pleased to see the back of Kita…it was unfortunate. Even Cherif felt kinda lousy and cancelled an afternoon’s worth of activities so we could all rest up. That said, the trip was rich and fascinating, and well worth the effort. If nothing else, this trip gave us the chance to watch Cherif play fuseball…yes, you read that right. While we waited to meet the traditional chief he played a game with Kayla. It was one of the funniest and best things I’ve seen on this trip. Love my professor. So cool.