GREETINGS FROM MALI BY WAGUÉ – JANUARY 12, 2013

Yesterday was sort of a chilly day. We barely had a sunny moment; the sky was covered with clouds. So I babysat my new niece Djeneba who is 8 months.  It was definitely a setback moment for me with changing diapers and bathing her. Again this morning on January 9th I watched over her while her mother did some chores and rested a bit. She is a very active little girl who loves hopping and dancing; my entire arms are soar. But before noon my youngest sister Haby came to take over. So I now have a bit of time to write.

Regarding my program of preserving folk tales and oral histories, I met with Moctar Kone and Bakoroba Diabate today. I have to say that it was a fruitful meeting. We all agreed that there is an urgent need to rescue and preserve these important tools of our cultural heritage before they disappear for good. Bakoro noted “as a historian, I’ve never seen the world as it is today, our cultures and our tools of education are all disappearing before our eyes.” Then he agreed to be the one who would start doing research here in Mali to help me with the concrete foundation recruiting the tales for children education. We should be meeting again soon.

I also met with the head of Girl Scout of Soni Cegni (now Youth Assoc). He said that one of the girls had died this year. They were hurt, but motivated by her contribution in their club. Because of that, they engaged into several great projects this year including the renewal of their education about girl circumcision. They particularly wanted to thank Ronna; it’s because of her that the program began. Now they are focusing on growing food organically. Their hope is to work on their own garden chemical free for a year before teaching others the technique.

I also met with Blanki and Dognoume last night regarding our Soni Cegni school programs and the preservation of their cultural heritages. We agreed on any date between Jan 20th though 23rd. Blanki will be heading to Soni Cegni soon to discuss with the elders and announce the date agreed upon. We also agreed that this year will not be a big event due to reasons known to us all. But the respectful process of courtesy toward the elders will be done as usual. I am planning to be their during school hrs to meet some teachers and students as I deliver their supplies.  My whole time there will be roughly 4 to 6 hrs.

Hawa Ballo

Hawa Ballo

Today I delivered a bag of rice to Hawa Ballo the blacksmith potter woman, and the remainder in money. She has lost her only son, who is her hope, in the North. She called on her two granddaughters who are now under her care to her side. She was shocked with American’s kindness and humanity toward her, but very pleased with our help to her. She held her jaw in her hand in deep thought and recited many words of blessing.

Modibo Traore

Our old friend Modibo Traore (who has been our cultural seeing eyes by using his ancient hunter Ngoni instrument to speak on our behalf to the elders of Soni Cegni), also received help from us. Modibo always takes the lead of our American visitors, and presents them with meaningful words in song to prove to the elders of Soni Cegni of our respectful purpose of visiting the village. Not enough dollars can reward Modibo for his ambassadorship. Just a couple of days ago, his father died from a long illness. Modibo himself is a father of 4.  This financial help will serve him beyond expectation. I talked to Modibo today; he sent his appreciations to Ko-falen and all that are thinking of Malians at this time.

Abdou Karim the well digger is meeting with me tonight and will receive his grain and money. So I will tell you about him soon.  In Mali we say you are the true beneficiary of what you do for others. Therefore, I do not want to spoil your kindness with the word “ thanks”.  According to the oral historian of Soni Cegni, as he points a finger skyward… “only this will pay you back.” Love,

Baba Wagué Diakité

GREETINGS TO ALL OF YOU WHO HELPED MAKE THIS POSSIBLE – JANUARY 8TH 2013

The 15 Families aid program that Ronna and I put together is still in process as of today. It is going well, but I must say that it has been very difficult and emotional to be seen delivering food and money to a few among the many numbers of people that are in need at this time.  Sometimes I get watery eyes, other times I feel proud.  Although 10 out of the 15 families have already been helped, it has not been easy to find or locate others.  People are going far afield to gain the daily bread for their families, so they are gone all day until late at night.

Marriam Bagayogo

Marriam Bagayogo

Mariam Doumbia was the very first recipient of the 15 families. After meeting with her, I suddenly realized that our plan ofbuying bags of rice and millet for every family may not be the most urgent for them all. Mariam has high blood pressure, she is diabetic, and has eye problems.  The doctor had advised her to rather miss a meal than her daily medicine. So she had preferred to receive a portion in money for her medicine.

Chebba Diarra

Chebba Diarra

Chebba Diarra is someone that most people who have come to Mali through Kofalen have met or know her.  She and her husband spent many years welcoming our group in the neighborhood with the sweet sound of the Balafon of the Beledougou region.  But her husband could no longer make money to care for them and after 2 of their children died this year, the husband had a mental breakdown and abandoned her and the remainder small 5 kids. So, Chebba fit perfectly for the need of food. We brought her one bag of rice, one bag of millet and the other half in cash to buy groceries and children necessities.

Today, I met Hawa Ballo the blacksmith woman who is a potter. Her story is even more heartbreaking. She lost her only son who is her hope, in the North. I did some interview with her and took a few photos but forgot to ask her permission to use the images. Her story will be in the next edition.

I cannot and will not be able to have pictures and videos of all my recipients, because they feel embarrassed to portray their poor condition to the world, and I respect that as it is.

Yesterday, Moctar Kone–one of the greatest oral historians in Mali at this time, told Jessica and Jon (visiting Ko-Falen) that “all Americans that had the chance to come to this country with Wague are very lucky. Because he has good things to say about Americans, he helps give us Malians peace of mind and makes U.S. look to us as a wonderful place. But we also know he is like that with you. Wague is so proud of Mali that he brings you Americans to meet and know his people, and that is why you come over and over again. But if he was a fool person, we wouldn’t even respect the people that followed him.”

He is very kind to say this.

Love to all,

Baba Wagué Diakité