It is my opinion, that there are moments in life, so perfect and well rounded off, that if you were offered a great sum of money later to trade in the happiness of these moments, you would refuse. Rather you would be willing to pay a great sum of money to buy that happiness and careless living back.
Fatoumata Coulibaly became one of my closest friends in Nara. Fatoumata or Fatime, as she is called held the position of “The Animatrice of the Project LAG” responsible for all project activities, that concerned the women in Nara and in the villages. Her job description was approxinmately 10 pages long ( I exagerate of course in case there are some labour layers amongst you).
Her tasks included educating women about proper childcare, hygene and nutrition, identifiying and developing income generating activities for the women, starting a contraceptive programme, teaching the women how to make soap, color fabric, make oil etc. etc. The list goes on and on.
When I arrived in Nara, the team of the project LAG was made up of seven men and Fatime.
I was the second woman to join the team. And for seven years, until the end of the project there were only the two us of representing the female side of the human race. Imagine the bond we developed over time.
Fatime showed me how to drive the motor bike in deep sand. She rode the same bike as all ” the boys” and I never forget that moment, when I saw her for the first time lifting up her beautiful boubou, the traditional Malian dress (a wide tunica worn over a wrapped skirt) and swing her leg over the XT cross bike and ride off into the Sahel. Another one bites the dust. That was me in that case. But apart from being one of the strongest women I have ever met, she had another talent.
Her brochettes (the french expression for kebab) were phenomenal. Unforgettable and I still dream of them today. Fatime bought the beef fillet on the market in the early morning hours, when it was fresh and marinated it for 24 hours in “a special mixture” of hers. And there was only one place where these brochettes had to be grilled and eaten. In the Sahelian bush at the ” Kebab Sit In”.
Usually late in the afteroon I drove out into the bush for two or three kilometes, Fatime sat next to me and Ccideron was ordained to ride on the back of the car, to prevent the big white plastic bucket filled with Fatimes legendary kebabs from falling over. And he did it in style. We always went to the same place.
Just put that camera down for a second!. Will you please!
We are talking to you!
Not only did Fatime give me hundreds of lessons about the mind and the way Malian women think, but I received many free geography lessons. These lessons were priceless.
Only very good friends and close family were allowed to join us, like my aunt, when she was visiting Mali. But no VIP’s
Night already! Who wants to go home !