Le cousinage de blague

A quick post about the Malian sense of humour, which is something that I’m working very hard to get my head round.  In the Malian culture lesson that IS Mali organized for us, the teacher explained that in Mali humour is used as a means of defusing arguments and ensuring that everyone in the community gets along.  However, there are certain rules and structures about who can joke with who.  Certain ethnic groups can joke with each other and people of certain surnames can joke with people of other certain surnames.  


We’ve all been issued with temporary “Malian names” – mine is “Awa Diarra”.  This means that we can figure out which other surnames we’re allowed to joke with and (hopefully) start joking around with everyone here.  Think this might be a challenge though as some of the jokes sound quite strange to British ears.  One of the most important jokes goes something like this:


Person 1: “You love beans, don’t you?”

Person 2: “I hate beans.  I can’t stand the taste of beans.  It’s you who loves beans.”

Person 1: “Beans?  Beans are disgusting.  But beans are your favourite food.  In fact, I saw you eating a big plate of beans just the other day.”

Person 2: “What?  Me?!  I’ve never seen a bean in my life.”


And so on and so forth, the joke being that most people like beans but for the purpose of the joke, everyone keeps protesting that they hate beans.  Within the group of volunteers we have been experimenting with this joke and have actually found it pretty funny, although I’m not sure whether I’ve done in justice on this post . . .

One thought on “Le cousinage de blague

  1. I am just marking exam scripts and eating beans on toast 🙂 You should do some inter-cultural joke exchange and tell the Malians the British view on beans – they’re good for your heart, and the more you eat, the more you…! Aren’t bodily function jokes universal?! I like your Malian name 🙂 Keep on enjoying it all! Kx

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