Bar Kouame

Time For Cheick Fadel – le Bonne Homme du Sahel

Cheik Fadel ' le bonne homme du Sahel"

It is time for Cheick Fadel ! Cheik Fadel ” aka Fernandel” – le bonne homme du Sahel !

I have created this site also for the ones who have worked, socialized, suffered, danced, laughed, cooked for me, talked through the nights, had meals with me, opposed, helped, invited, fought me, shouted at me, explained, hugged me, gave me presents, listened to music with me, worried, cared for me – and simply became my friends. Yes this is possible!  The most beautiful thing about development work is that true friendships can develop and will and that is why I have added a very personal note to this blog.

Not only did Cheick Fadel have a great sounding, melodic name – who could resist carrying such a name! Not me!  His name is somehow music and so is the whole man. Cheick was born and bred in Nara, a true man of the Sahel. His family has lived there for generations and still is. He worked for the project for several years as ” the field agent for community gardens programme” that was aligned with the Conservation and Management of the Natural Resources Sector.

What else did we do in Nara?  Well, we did basically everything. That is the nature of ” holistic village development programmes” .

Cheick Fadel on tour in Kabida Bambara

Cheick Fadel ” toured” the community garden sites with a 500 Yamaha XT off road bike day after day. We all had a moto cross bike but I think he developed a special relation with his bike. No wonder considering the time he spent in the bush with “her”. He “sensibilised” the people in the villages, showed them how to grow vegetables, supervised the installations of new community gardens and did a trillion of other tasks, always radiating happiness and content.

And he fought a very personal and raging fight against the natural predators, ravaging the pampered gardens in great numbers every year.

Cheik Fadel going to war against the predators

It has to be said that ” la lutte contre les predateurs” ( pest control)- at times turned into a war. And I really don’t know where he got the gas mask from. It was there before I came.

And his favourite place to do after hours work was of course ” Kouame” !

I was invited so many times to his place and we listened to tapes on his tape recorder he had bought on the market in Bamako. Cheik Fadel introduced me to Malian music and to many other aspects of Malian culture and tradition.

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Categories: Bar Kouame, Development Aid, Mali, Nara, Nature, People, Sahel, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Payer Avant De Consumer! Pay Before You Drink!

Akono posing in front of the beverages selection available for consumption at the Kouame Bar in Nara

There was nothing that could be said about “Nara au Sahel” with absolute certainty except the one thing: that it was a very very hot place ( temperature wise, I mean). The management of the Ghanaian Kouame Bar, Akono, took care of the thirst of the residents that had been accumulated during a long hot Sahel day.

The establishment, having gained such great popularity, especially in the later hours of the night when darkness prevailed, had some serious rules that could not be bend or contradicted, no matter what the reason was.

 

Payer avant de consumer!Pay before you drink!

Payez avant de consumer ! Pay before you drink ! – was the most important rule. And admittedly it made a lot of sense.

A basic selection makes your life easy and does not confuse you!

The selection of beverages on offer were exhibited openly and were easy to memorize by a tired mind. Your choice was made very easy. In the afternoon one could already decide for which drink to go at night. Ten drinks were available depending on the stock and on the condition that the delivery trucks had come through from Bamako without breaking down or getting stuck on the road for several days.

There was no need to study long menus of complicated cocktail mixes. Apart from that the Koaume Bar was a place of great happiness, animated discussion and relaxation. I will tell you about the grilled cow feet and legs, that are a Ghanaian speciality another day.

Categories: Africa, Bar Kouame, Mali, Market, Nara, People, Sahel, Street Life, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bar Kouame – A Very Honest Place

Bar Kouame a truly honest bar

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 “.

The view from inside the Kouame Bar when looking over the Nara market

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.

Categories: Africa, African Food, Bar Kouame, Mali, Nara, People, Sahel, Street Life, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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