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

Kodjo Kamissoko, The Guardian Of My Life

Kodjo Kamissoko, the guardian

“Do I really need a guard? “ I asked when I arrived in Nara.

“I would say you do “, one of my future Malian colleagues said, “we all have guards!”

” What for?”

“Well, for fetching water, buying meat, chicken and other groceries on the market, cutting the meat, watching the house, sweeping, ironing, heating water in winter for the shower, feeding the animals, keeping the children out of the yard, chasing stray dogs…I think you are supposed to work here. If you don’t have a guard you will hardly find the time to work.”

“What animals are we feeding”? Project Animals? “

“No, your livestock, I mean. You are goanna breed some chicken I assume for the kitchen. May be a little vegetable garden as well. And by the way there is a guy coming over this afternoon to show you two donkeys. You can just pick one and negotiate the price. You will only need one for a start “.

“My French is not yet that good to negotiate prices”, I worried loud.

” He does not speak French, I think only Soninke”, my colleague replied.

When I understood that a ” charette” a popular local means of transport – a donkey cart on two recycled car tires with a matching donkey – was needed to travel to the public well in Nara, queue in line behind the ones who have arived before you, manually fetch water in buckets and pour them into plastic barrels on the donkey cart and then travel back to the house to off-load the water into two other plastic barrels stored at the house  – an intense search for a guard started !

Kodjo Kamissoko, more than a guard rather a friend

Kodjo Kamissoko, A Soninke man in his forties was the chosen one and occupied “the guard position” for nearly six years. He lived on the same property with me. He became more my guardian and advisor than guard. Apart from doing all the above mentioned tasks he made the best Arab tea in Nara, knew the gossip and new stories always first, was great company and totally reliable. I will speak a lot about him.


He enjoyed long night conversations around the fire.

And he did make light more than once !

Categories: Africa, Arab, Mali, Market, Nara, People, Tradition, Travel, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

La Papeterie et Librairie de Cheick Hamalla Traore a Nara

I can not tell you if this little shop still exists but when I was living in Nara, la papeterie and librairie ( paper and stationery shop) of Cheick Hamalla Traore was the place to source your material for the office.

Many small shops were situated around the central market in Nara. An entire library of its own could be written about the life stories of the traders and owners of these convenience shops.

 I have listened more than afternoon over a  glass – or three – of strong, delicious Arab tea to their adventures about doing trade in the Sahel.

Categories: Mali, Market, Nara, Papeterie, People, Sahel, Street Life, Tradition, Transport, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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