Archive for October, 2011

Filed Under (Beninese culture, Malian culture) by Rob on 23-10-2011

1. Recycling is part of everyday life, which can result in some extremely resourceful uses of waste:


2. People always find a was to achieve their goals, however unconventional this may seem to the Western psyche:


3. Life is so laid-back there. Nobody is in a rush, but things still get done (eventually…)


4. There is always good humour amongst the people, even in the face of adversity:


5. However stressful your day, there is something around every corner that will bring a smile to your face:


That’s why I love Africa.

Here are some more cultural curiosities from the blog, all of which make Africa such an intriguing place to live:

African roads
Millet beer
Overloaded vehicles
God is everywhere
Rainy season in Cotonou
Malian Bean Eaters
Designer Labels in Mali

Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (General, Things to do in Bamako) by Rob on 18-10-2011

Have a nice snack at ‘Le Nid’ in Torokorobougou!

Yes, this recently-opened place is air-conditioned and has good food and good service. Even the prices are reasonable! A chwarma costs around 1000cfa, burgers maybe 1500. I like the ‘Salade Africaine’ (which we’ve had several times without getting sick) – for just 750cfa (that’s one English pound!!) you get lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumber and egg! Bargain!

But it’s a breakfast time that I like Le Nid most of all: great pastries and cakes and the best cafĂ© au lait in town (according to Rob Baker).

‘Le Nid’ means ‘The Nest’ – hence the light brown nest-like design on the walls inside. To get there, take the New Bridge (not the New, New Bridge) from town and exit as soon as you’re over. Turn right and Le Nid is about 300yds down on the right hand side. NB There is also a ‘Nid’ in town near the start of the Route de Koulikoro. Never been (as this one is closer) but it looks almost identical from the outside and (I imagine) does the same kind of food.

So, what are you waiting for? Le Nid is a handy, friendly place (with slightly whacky interior decor) to chill out and watch the news on one of their two flat-screen tellys!

Filed Under (Malian culture) by Rob on 14-10-2011

It really rains!

That’s my front yard in a rain storm – water water everywhere! Thankfully, our mini trampoline came in handy for the kids!

You see, in Africa you don’t get the drizzle-for-days-on-end like in England. In fact, fine rain is quite rare, as is rain without a cracking thunder storm! This means that a lot of rain falls in a short time, causing flooding (like in this post).

Here’s a short video showing what my street looks like during a rain storm – veritable road turned river:

In Benin, we had the same problem; worse in fact. Watch this one to see me riding on the back of a motobike taxi through a 14″ flood in Cotonou:

(Click here for the original blog post).

Meanwhile, here in Mali rainy season is all but over and there is a dry, crisp feel to the air we haven’t experienced for a few months. Humidity is now as low as 24%, but it’s still pretty warm. We are now eagerly awaiting the coolness which comes with the Harmattan (blogged about in 2006 and 2007). Here in Mali, the Harmattan lasts so long, it’s actually called ‘Cold Season’ and temps can get as low as 12 Celsius!!

Am I talking about the weather again?? Anyone would think I was British…

Filed Under (Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 12-10-2011

Seen on the wall of a Malian School:

Nice! The slogan means: Discipline – Hard Work – Success

Sounds good to me, though the teacher looks a bit strict!

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

Well…very, very big!

(click here to see original site)

Some projections of world maps (particularly the Marcator) make Africa look smaller than Greenland, even though it’s around 14 times larger. That’s why I prefer the Peters Projection (even though it looks a bit squished!)

Then there was also this map, suggesting how much of the world views Africa (blogged about here)

How the world sees Africa

And if you think Africa is nothing but poverty, warfare and sickness, think again. Of course, these exist, but let’s also celebrate what is a vibrant continent with wonderful people, breath-taking landscapes, fascinating cultures and exciting wildlife! Hooray for Africa!

Filed Under (Ethnomusicology) by Rob on 07-10-2011

In September this year, Rob attended the ‘Arts in Missions’ conference in Herfordshire, UK.

It was a great week, with lots of like-minded people sharing their thoughts, experiences and ways of worshipping. It was also a consultation for developing a new ‘Arts Manual’, which will be available in the future for all those engaged in the Arts in cross-cultural missions. Anyway, don’t take my word for it – watch this cool video, which shows what happened during the week (you can briefly spot me in a green Malian costume and also in a multi-coloured rugby top!)

(NB A shorter, 3 minute version of this film is viewable here).

Hope you enjoyed that. Don’t forget, there are lots of places running courses in Arts and Missions these days, as more and more folk are realizing the importance of using culturally relevant arts in their work. Music is not a universal language and neither are any of the arts. Going into cross-cultural missions without understanding this could, in some cases, even be destructive. So, what are you waiting for? Get transcultural and find out more!

Arts Courses at GIAL, Texas

European Training Programme Arts Course (UK)

BA Degree with an Arts pathway option (All Nations, UK)

Ethno-Arts at YWAM School of Missions, Panama

List of courses on ICE website

Masters Degrees in Musicology on

Filed Under (Beninese culture, Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 05-10-2011

A pair of lionesses, seen in the Pendjari National Park, Benin:

(click to enlarge – if you dare!!)

Wow! We had a great time there back in 2005 and 2006; so many great animals to see (hippos, baboons, elephants, crocodiles, antelope, buffalo, monkeys, lions, hyena). In spite of the heat, the very rough ‘washboard’ roads and almost being charged by a baby elephant, it was wonderful!

Click here to see my album of all the fauna we sighted in the Pendjari. Thanks for reading!