Archive for August, 2010

Filed Under (Malian culture) by Rob on 11-08-2010

…is all the graffiti:

I was surprised to see this when I first came here, as Cotonou and Lomé had virtually no graffiti. I’m not really sure why this happens here; I think it’s mostly bored youngsters with a can of paint to hand. Most of their ‘tags’ sound like names of gangs or groups of some kind, almost always made up of a suitable adjective followed by ‘boys’ or ‘men’ or equivalent: ‘Master Boys’ ‘Strong Men’ ‘Boston Clan’ etc. Fascinating indeed, though I’d still rather the walls were clean!

In one village I visited recently, someone had written “9 Cent” on the wall of a mosque! Now that’s gotta be wrong (and they’re 41 cents short, it would seem!)

It’s quite different from European graffiti; certainly not as artistic, which is interesting in a country which has some great artists! But I’m not sure the perpetrators of this kind of visual pollution even see it as a bad thing. Just like an African road is a ‘shared space’ (rather than the domain of cars alone, pedestrians, donkeys, barrows and the like also wander freely amongst the vehicles) then maybe a blank wall is also seen as ‘common domain’ and that – in writing upon it – it’s actually improving its appearance? Looking on the bright side, one could argue that it helps literacy in a country with relatively low literacy rates!

Filed Under (Malian culture) by Rob on 09-08-2010

Here’s a second ‘African Arts’ video I have put together, this time showing how the ‘bogolan’ or ‘mud cloth’ is made. Also, how the yellow or orange ‘basilan’ cloth is dyed. I hope you enjoy this one too!

Filed Under (General, Malian culture) by Rob on 06-08-2010

Yes, Mali – and Africa in general it would seem – continues to possess, sell and display numerous examples of ‘Obama’ goods in all shapes and sizes:

Africans are understandibly very proud that someone with African roots is now running such a powerful country. Almost wherever you go now, you will see small children wearing ‘Obama’ t-shirts or vehicles with Obama stickers on them. Here are some other examples:

TL: The Obama hold-all (travel bag), TR: The Obama t-shirt (not much of a likeness, though), BL: The Obama ‘posh’ shirt and BR: The Obama underpants! Don’t blame me – I just take the photos and tell you about them!!

Mind you, even I was surprised by the following example – Barack Obama’s face is even being used to sell toothbrushes, accompanied by the slogan “Change we Need”:

…but I don’t need to change my toothbrush just now and, even if I did, I think I’d buy a make I’ve heard of! Such fun in Africa, eh?