Archive for May, 2011

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 27-05-2011

What’s one of these an what does it do??

Answers please…

Filed Under (Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 25-05-2011

A Nigerian collage picture of a man playing the cor anglais:

How on earth this happened I cannot even guess! Of all the instruments to choose? An oboe or bassoon would be strange enough, but a cor anglais??? Did they find a picture on the internet, or just happen to know a cor anglais player (I mean, do YOU know one???)

Very random indeed (but I love it)!

Filed Under (Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 23-05-2011

Buy some tasty, pasteurized milk from one of these places:

Yes, until recently we always relied upon powdered milk as the imported stuff in cartons costs a small fortune. However, a few weeks ago, several places like this one popped up around Bamako, selling pasteurized local milk, produced with the aid of a Swiss charity. It is sold in plastic bags for 500cfa per litre (that’s about 65p!) Here’s the blokey at the shop, selling me some milk:

He told me: “We don’t boil the milk; we heat it to 90 degrees Celsius, that’s called la pasteurization.

The milk is full-fat and tastes good! In fact, it’s so creamy that we tend to dilute it a bit, which makes it go even further. We’ve been drinking it for the past couple of months and have not knowingly got sick from doing so. Here’s a bit of info, from the front of the shop:

As milk goes ‘off’ quickly, I’ve tended to pour it into plastic bottles and freeze it; that way we can buy a large amount in one go and then defrost it a bottle at a time. Here’s what 5000cfa (or £6.50) gets you:

Here’s where the milk shop in Badalabougou is located (just in front of the L-shaped building in the middle of the picture):

View Tim’s Bamako map in a larger map

I’ve seen at least a couple of others in town, so keep a look out and, if you can, let me know where they are located. Meanwhile, why not try a glass of tasty Malian milk??

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology) by Rob on 20-05-2011

I recently returned from Nigeria, where I taught a two-week course entitled ‘Music and the Arts’.

Many of you may be asking:

“What do you do on a course like this? And what’s the point (apart from having fun)?”

Well, although it was fun, it was also hard work and we covered an enormous amount of material. Here’s a brief summary of the topics we cover on a course like this:

* Why do we have the arts? What rôles can they play?
* A history of church music in Africa.
* A Biblical basis for using the arts in missions.
* Organology: the study and classification of musical instruments.
* Verbal expressions: stories/proverbs/riddles etc.
* The visual arts: how these are also non-universal.
* Contextualization and how to do it.
* Researching the arts in a given location.
* Ethno-drama: examples and practical task.
* Music and Trance: possession in African music.
* How to run a song-writing workshop.
* Song composition: practical task.
* Field recording techniques.

We also had a few visiting arty folk, including a an ethnic music group, a story-teller and a very talented ethno-dance group (oh, and Indian puppetry from my colleague…)

Finally, there was lots of singing, dancing and playing music, particularly during breaktimes, with a good range of different ethnic instruments:

Being an ethnomucologist/arts worker is a great job and loads of fun but also has a HUGE impact on entire communities in a way other forms of communication can not.

Could YOU be an ethno-arts worker?

Do you know anyone who might fit the bill?

If so, get in touch! We’re running a similar (but more in-depth) course in the UK this summer. I’ll be teaching one some of it too!

Have a look at the course info here: ETP Ethno-Arts Course 2011

Finally watch this video and be inspired:

Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 18-05-2011

The Amazing Nigerian Plane-House!

I must admit, I was somewhat gob-smacked to see this building on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria, recently. At first glance, it almost looks as if an aeroplane has crashed into the roof of the house. On closer examination, however, it is clear to see that the house was built to look like this, presumably by someone who really likes planes!

Wish I’d had the chance/courage to stop and ask for a tour of the house – must be fascinating inside! Back home in England, I doubt such a building would get planning-permission…

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology, Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 12-05-2011

Doing a spot of recording on an Arts Course last summer.

One of the things we teach students on such courses is how to do decent field recordings of local music. This was me last September in Bamako, showing them in a practical way what to do.

Interestingly, I was doing exactly the same thing today, but in Jos, Nigeria. More on that to follow…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 10-05-2011

From a recent trip, here are four West African cities from the air. Can you match them with their names?

They are:
1. Bamako, Mali
2. Dakar, Senegal
3. Cotonou, Benin
4. Lagos, Nigeria

So, have a butcher’s and try and put A, B, C and D in the right order. Have fun!

Filed Under (Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 04-05-2011

A Renault 12 taxi in Sikasso

If you’re my age (or slightly younger) you may well remember travelling in a Renault 12 back in the 70s or early 80s; one of the only cars which look almost the same going backwards as forwards! I love ’em! Those funny little plastic levers to open the doors, and the interior was something else (see a great picture of the dash here). Here’s what mine looked like:

Many of these Renault Douze, it would seem, have found their way to southern Mali, and if you go to Sikasso, you’ll notice that around 70% of all its taxis are this make and model; bizarre and fascinating at the same time!

Folk who’ve been here long enough will tell you that these used to be in Bamako and then found their way ‘down country’ as more and more Mercedes 190s came in to replace them as the most common taxi make in the capital (more about those another time).

Interestingly, Romania continued making a car almost identical to the Douze until about a decade ago, called the Dacia 1320. There you go!