The Meeting Place in Nara
” La Place de Reunion ” – The Meeting Place is the place where the thoughts are shaped. It is the place where decisions are made that concern the community as well as individuals. There are community halls but the men prefer to gather and have their discussions at the meeting place .
Every aspect of Mali’s society is structured. These structures detemine the way people interact and treat each other.
Thought is structured. One does not simply say what one thinks. Before a thought is spoken out in public it is turned around, looked at from every angle and the impact it would have on the listeners is evaluated from all sides. Not everybody can say everything. Some things have to be left for the right person to say.
Every village has a central meeting place build from indigenous tree trunks. The ones in the picture are characteristic of the Nara region.
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: Africa, children, girl, Mali, Nara, Sahel Village, Street Life, tradition, Traditional Wedding, West Africa
Women in a meeting in Keybane Soninke sitting on traditional wood carved stools
” Muso ” is the word in the Bambara language for woman.
Salif Keita, the famous Malian Griot with a voice from another world, has written a song ” Moussooloo”, a brilliant tribute to the women of Mali and to all the women of this world. I heard this song for the first time during my stay in Mali. Since then the melody and the words have stayed with me. Driving through the villages and seeing the mothers occupied with their daily work, was like seeing the song taking on form in front of my eyes instead of hearing it.
Africa is the mother of all nations and in this song he salutes the mother of all mother’s. Salif Keita sings about our mother’s and that we have to honor them and not to forget to visit them. That is important, because they do miss us.
We have to visit them soon because we do not understand the extent of our suffering yet to come if they are gone. Visit them soon is the message. Honor them and value them in their life time.
In Nara and the surrounding villages, women and men never joined projects meetings together. Things were discussed separately. When we had a meeting with the women of a village to discuss a topic with them that concerned their lives, an elder would sit with us and listen attentively to what was said, so that he could communicate the outcome to the men later.
A decision would only be made once the men had been informed and asked for their opinion. Although this seemed to foreigners often like a supressive tactic, the women had enormous power in their family and in their home.
Categories: Africa, Nara, Tradition, women
Tags: Bambara, griot, Mali, meetings, Moussoolou, music, Sahel, Salif Keita, tradition, Village, West Africa, women