The Bar Kouame is situated close to the market in Nara.
I lived in the “quartier liberte” (the suburb of freedom) also called the “Maure quarter” because most of the residents were of Maure origin. It was a two minute walk from my house to the Bar Kouame, whose owners came originally from Ghana. A pleasant and most of all very short walk under the last rays of the Sahel sun.
I have spend more evenings and nights of my life at Kouame than in any other bar or establishment on this world.
At the back room were aligned four old paraffin fridges with cold cooldrinks, water, water frozen in clear plastic shopping bags that when smashed against the wall made perfect ice cubes, beer and some very suspicious looking other drinks, a sort of Gin, already portioned and filled in small plastic bags.
When entering the bar for the first time with my brother Chris Aka Ccideron he said ” This is a very honest place “.
And indeed it was. A little bit archaic in appearance, it was however the place where all essential news of Nara and it’s surroundings were exchanged. It was the place ” where you could find out about somthing “. An African palaver hut of a different kind.
Mali politics and world politics were discussed here. I was part of some of the most heated and interesting discussion I have ever witnessed. Nara gossip was turning like a whirl wind inside the airy, thatch-covered bar chambers. Music was played and match making was attempted all the time. And there were several corners were visitors could withdraw entirely and were not seen for the rest of the evening.
During the day Kouame was frequented openly by many of the soldiers of the Tamachek (Touareg) batallion that was based in Nara. I had come to Nara in the late 1990’s after the so called Tuareg rebellion had just calmed down and a fragile peace had been established in the Northern regions of Mali.
The Touareg ” rebels ” had been incorporated into the Malian military. About 200 soldiers were living at the time in Nara, many with their families. They were there to secure the region and keep banditism under control. A curfew was still active and everybody had to be inside Nara town at sundown. In practice this was taken more loosely of course.
But the Kouame Bar was the place to relax. In the evening many other non military citizens and Nara locals would sneak into the bar under the veil of darkness, drink, talk, observe othes and listen to music. The Kouame Bar deserves a book of it’s own and slowly with time I will tell you more of what happened there.