I’m sitting here in a town named Nienia.
I left Sikasso at 5:30 am for a meeting here. Well, I was suppose to be at this meeting.
However, i let my Malian friend take the lead. I stopped at a roadside cafe, African style instead (See Picture), and let him conduct the meeting.
I played Hooky.
I knew the meeting would be a waste of time. Even though the project is a good one. To preserve Ganadougou music styles and rhythms in recordings. We have a professional Ethnomusicologist booked to arrive for this work in February.
When Malians hear the word “Project”, they light up like a Christmas tree, which is why I avoid using the word all together.
I was in this town only two weeks ago to discuss this music work. They hoped for a formal proposal all written up. Basically they wanted on paper how much money was going to flow into the region as a result of this “Project”.
Of course, I did not supply the paper, because as far as I am concerned it is none of their business how much it costs. The more critical point is this – there is no gravy for you to skim off this project, boys!
We are going to support the project, and with flight expenses included for our ethnomusicologist, meals for the participants, a thank you cash gift for the dozen participants, and the recording for distribution it will be $2500 project.
However, since I insist keeping things clear, there isn’t any way for anyone to pocket money from any of my work.
Therefore, frankly, i can already see their enthusiasm fading.
S0, so, sorry corruption machine.
The other confusing reality is that these people are well aware of who I am. They have heard of you drip irrigated garden development work in the Sikasso region, and though i came seventy five kilometers to speak to them about music, they want to talk about my development work instead.
I understand, the need is great here. But they simply can’t seem to stick to the project at hand in any meeting.
Therefore, I refused to attend the meeting this morning. My friend can speak about the music work, and my absence means that talk about my development work will not be stimulated.
So here I am, sitting at this street side breakfast nook. I don’t recommend people eat at such places too often, unless you have a seasoned African gullet such as mine. I’ll spare you the details.
After an hour hanging around, and everyone looking at me as I ate, as I stood on the side of the road waiting, all the whole evrryone is wondering what the heck this westerner is doing here, and he arrived on a motorcycle. Quite baffling in this context, I assure you.
Eventually I received a call. My friend told me that what we proposed did not fly with the first group, so we are being handed off to a second group. They called and wanted me to come for the second part of the meeting.
I simply said my no, and told my friend to work out what he could.
The only thing that bothers me is that the Mayor’s male secretary caught me playing hooky. He saw me sitting here, and now knows I am in town. He is not aware of any meeting going on, yet, but he will soon hear. He will be in the great position to tell the Mayor about what I was doing too.
He came over and asked how things are going with my “Project”. I told him my friend was on the case, that I am waiting for him to take me to a Senoufou village, which is true, but incomplete.
I will be in several of their very own Ganadougou Villages today, but i would rather the officials not know many details of my plans in the region. Better for the poor people, and for us. As I don’t have to deal with incessant delays and being pushed to help the more “Connected” people, who end up scooping up development stuff before the poor ever see it.
Only the poorest of the poor see my projects. I bypass the corrupt system all together.
I like it that way. Hope you do too….
I try to keep my activity invisible here, on the down low.
After all, I am the invisible Humanitarian.