Street Life

Dumped On A Dusty Street

Scrap for Africa, dumped on a dusty street in Nara.

First world scrappage  programs lead to first class scrappage sites in Africa.

A scrappage program is a government budget program to promote the replacement of old vehicles with modern vehicles. Scrappage programs generally have the dual aim of stimulating the automobile industry and removing inefficient, high emissions vehicles from the road. Many European countries have introduced large-scale scrappage programs as an economic stimulus to increase market demand in the industrial sector during the global recession that began in 2008.

In an effort to stimulate consumer spending, the German government has provided a scrap bonus of 2,500 euros ($3,570) for two million old cars in 2009.  Germany announced, however later, it would not extend the subsidy, which has proved extremely popular.

Many Germans jumped at the chance to replace old cars with new ones. But instead of being crushed here, as planned by the program, many cars end up in Africa. Nigerian dealers say they export up to 150 cars per month.

Similar, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), colloquially known as “Cash for Clunkers“, was a $3 billion US federal scrappage program intended to provide economic incentives to U.S. residents to purchase a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle when trading in a less fuel-efficient vehicle. The program, starting in 2009, was promoted as providing stimulus to the economy by boosting auto sales, while putting safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roadways.

However 50000 scrapped vehicles have been exported to Africa and Eastern Europe, where newer, safer cars of the type being destroyed in the West are prohibitively expensive.

Now just add all the cars that have been brought to Africa since the 1960’s.

( more information about these programs can be found on Wikipedia)

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Categories: Cars, Landscapes, Mali, Mali Villages, Nara, Sahel, Street Life, Transport, Travel, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Young Soccer Talent In The Sahel

Young soccers players move down to the "marigot" the dry lake, to get ready for a soccer match. Since it is a special match they have all dressed up in white T Shirts and shoes for this occasion.

My first work assignment was to be patient and present, in other words to look around and understand my new environment. At the end of my observation period a detailed report was expected. That was fine with me, writing was never a problem for me.

But I can tell now that it takes a minimum of two years to understand the relations of the people in a village like Nara au Sahel and to get a feeling for a place. Two years are just the beginning of a long journey making you understand the basic functioning of a locality. Two years just help you to not embarrass yourself too much anymore in public. The finer connotations still escape you ! After two years you move on to the next level.

I talk about participatory development and development aid but my focus is on the human side of it. The focus is on what can happen and will happen to you when you immerse yourself deeply into a culture, that is not only not your own but more so is deeply distant from your culture.

It is fantastic.!

It is absolutely fantastic but the greatest change will happen to you and not to the ” developing world or the third world and its people. The one fundamentally and drastically changing, thereby causing great concern to your non-understanding family is going to be you.

The view over my wall. It offered constant entertainment from all sides

For the execution of my first assignment and many others, the wall around my mud and Banco house was the ideal working environment. I lived in the last house at the end of the road on the right hand side of the  “Quartier Liberte”, also called the Moor Quarter. At the end of “Liberty” was a great dry lake, the French expression for it is “marigot” or simply “le mar”. Leaning on my wall, changing my position with the moving shade and moving along with it – I was patient and present as had been suggested.

In this dry lake soccer matches took frequently place. One afternoon a special match was organized and I saw the young promising soccer players moving down to the mar. All were dressed in white t-shirts and they were wearing SHOES!  That showed how special that match was. Normally soccer was played barefoot on sand and gravel. There are no football clubs, sometimes there is not even a ball ! But Soccer is a real peace maker in  Africa.

And why are there so many great African football players? Because most of them started like the young soccer players in the  marigot of Nara au Sahel.

Categories: Africa, Landscapes, Mali, Nara, People, Sahel, Street Life, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

All Dressed Up

A little girl all dressed up in a street in Nara

The little girl in the picture was my neighbour’s daughter. That day she was wearing a beautiful white and blue Western dress, matching the colors of the Sahel. The dress had been bought on the Nara market the day before. She had been attending a wedding with her parents, friends and neighbours.

Now that most of the festivities were over and the greatest heat of the day had faded, she enjoyed playing in the street all by herself.

What has become of her, I asked myself ? When going through my pictures I remember this moment clearly. I played with her for a while. Today she is a woman, may be married to a man in the Sahel, a wealthy trader or a farmer ? Still in Nara ? Or has a decision been made for her by her parents to allow her to go to school and get an education ?

Categories: Berber, People, Sahel, Street Life, Tradition, Wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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