This week I didn’t expect to be back in Africa, especially not Mali, the country Abbie has been calling home for the last 3 weeks, but thanks to a small political situation caused by a disagreement over the ingredients of this locality’s fabled mud plaster I am currently in the 45 degree desert heat of Djenné, Mali’s fabled city of mud. Yesterday was the annual replastering of the great mosque, a fantastic building rising majestically above the city’s rooftops and constructed completely out of mud and palm wood. Djennéans travel from far and wide each year to make their pilgrimage back home to lend a hand to the renovation work, on a day when the whole city comes out in force to participate in this town’s extraordinary mud festival.
Now I’ve had my fair share of muddy festival experiences… I grew up in England after all, a country for whom no summer cultural experience would be complete without at least one soggy visit to a recital of One way by The Levellers, knee deep in a west country quagmire. However, never before have I been lured to an event specifically as a result of its muddy credentials, not least when your job involves carrying an array of expensive polished glass lenses with you at all times.
Needless to say, I love what I do and I am definitely the kind of person who likes to immerse myself in the places I visit so I wasn’t about to make this trip to Djenne an exception…
This morning, the rising sun revealed the beautiful extent of the previous day’s efforts. Now, with all our equipment cleaned and packed and the rest of the crew on their way back to Bamako, cameraman Robin and I are ready to head north to Dogon country to meet up with another Human Planet crew in search of the first rains of the year and hopefully a little respite from the relentless heat of the Sahel.
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Interested in more stories from Mali? Try HERE