Identifying Mali on a bougoulan map


Identifying Mali on a bougoulan map

Me pursuing the Peace Corps third goal with another presentation to the public — this time at the Chateau Assisted Living facility in Pleasant Hill for a senior audience.

My books made it!

I finally received confirmation that my books arrived safe and sound in village.  Our wonderful regional coordinator, Mama Traore, not only paid for the books but drove them the 23 km to village, and pulled my homologue, Mamu, from the fields (it is rainy season after all), to deliver them to the School Director of the secondary school.  He said everyone was very happy with the selection.  I wish the cell tower had been built so I could call Mamu directly and hear how things are going, but Mama also told me that Djenebou and Adam made it safely back to village, and they greet me.  So things sound like they’re back to normal.

Last night I started my second memoir writing class at the Writing Salon.  I enjoy writing about other parts of my life besides Mali, but the more I write and review my journals, blog entries, and letters, I really do think I have enough material to write my own Peace Corps memoir.  And when I do, I hope the Commune Wateni library will still be going strong so I can send them a copy.

Good news from Mali at last

I just heard this week from the head of Small Enterprise Development, Macki, that the books I had ordered from America and France for our community library project have arrived safely in Niena.  8 heavy boxes full of books are waiting to be sprung from the post office.  Unfortunately each box requires 10,000 CFA to be paid in order for it to be released, so I’m hoping that Peace Corps will authorize the approximately $160, which I had totally budgeted for before we left, to keep the books from languishing in postal purgatory.

Of course, even if the books do get to village, I still can’t be 100% sure that the library will open it’s doors or pursue the lending policy that we’d been discussing, but I have faith that my homologue and the secondary school Director will keep the ball rolling.

Tinariwen and Mapfumo

This week I had the pleasure of seeing both Thomas Mapfumo (Yoshi’s San Francisco) and Tinariwen (Herbst Theatre) live in San Francisco.  Seeing African music played so cleanly and crisply on electric instruments, with drink choices ranging far beyond Castel, Flag and even Beaufort, at the scheduled time, in such a sanitary environment, with so few people dancing, has reinforced that I’m back in America.  I’m lucky to be in a part of the country rich in RPCVs and in such cultural opportunities, but I’m definitely not in Mali anymore.

I wasn’t sure if Tinariwen was going to mention the Tuareg rebellion in Mali or the secession of Azawad going into the concert as I’d heard they can be rather political, but they didn’t. Apparently their main singer was missing that night, so the between song banter didn’t progress past, “Ca va?” “C’est bon?” “Is ok?” and “Thank you!”

3rd Goal Presentations

Yesterday I did 7 half hour presentations on my time in Peace Corps Mali for 7th and 8th grade history classes at JM middle school.  I think my presentation got tighter as the day went on.  The kids seemed to especially enjoy the things I brought to hand around, which included a bogolan map of Africa, a slingshot, a backpack made from a whole sheep skin, and a kid’s backpack with Saddam Hussein on it.  Although, I was surprised to find out how few of the kids knew who Saddam was or what country he was from.  They had a general sense that he was “bad” and perhaps a “terrorist.”  I forgot to do things like translate kilometers to miles and define all of my terms like “coup d’etat” and “animism,” but I received some lovely thank you notes today for my trouble all the same.

Danville Library

On Tuesday I also participated in a panel of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers at Danville Community Library with two volunteers who had also been recently evacuated, although they had both served in Honduras.  It was interesting hearing about their experience since it involved things like washing machines and mini-fridges–Posh Corps indeed.


After a month of no real new news from Mali, the saying no news is good news comes to mind after seeing this headline Gunfire in capital as Mali junta hunts “mercenaries”.  I hope that peace and elections are still on the horizon for Mali.

Here are a couple of other articles to provide more context:

Foreign Policy – The Mess in Mali

New York Times Opinion – All Hail Azawad

New York Times Blog – Junta Leader in Mali Tries to Shift Focus from Coup

New York Times – Ousted Mali President Arrives in Senegal after Coup