I am Sophie, a Swedish woman by birth but English by adoption. I have a little mud hotel in the beautiful and ancient West African town of Djenne, Mali. WWW.HOTELDJENNEDJENNO.COM Because of unstable political situation, tourism has ground to a halt. Hotel still open! But hotel staff mainly working in Bogolan studio now: www.malimali.org check out our fab online shop!
This morningwhile I was having breakfast in the garden Ace came to inform me that the second wife of my friend Haidara, the last horseman of Djenne, had died during the night. Ace was on his way from the cemetery, where she had just been buried. So I donned my headscarf and ventured into the maze of narrow mud alleyways which meander in between the ancient two storey mud houses of the Konofia neighbourhood of Djenne until I arrived at Haidara’s house to present my condolences according to the custom of Djenne. He sat cross legged on a mat in his vestibule, the hallway that separates the courtyard from the street in a traditional Djenne house, welcoming the steady stream of people who filed past giving their condolences: Ala Ka Hine A la, Ala Ka Dayoro suma...(may God have mercy on her soul, May God grant her a sweet resting place) I took my place in the file and also said the same words, but I stayed a little longer and Haidara’s other two wives showed me the beautiful baby boy that their ‘sister’ had given birth to with a caesarion four days ago. She had come back from the hospital but something had clearly gone wrong in the aftermath of the operation...Haidara seemed calm and unruffled and he even smiled when he saw me- but I have lived in Djenne long enough now to understand that people’s calm acceptance of death here does not mean they do not grieve.