So much to blog about today as I had an amazing weekend at the Festival sur le Niger in Ségou.
We all set off on Friday afternoon from Bamako after a two-hour wait for a bus at a petrol station in the searing midday heat – not so fun. (Current Mali weather update – 33 degrees and getting hotter!) We ended up on a bus with two of the acts who were due to appear on stage the next day – Sousou and Maher Cissoko and Doussou Koulibaly – who treated us to a bit of kora music as we headed for Ségou to get us in the mood.
The festival itself was amazing – it was held on the banks of the river Niger, with the main stage floating on the river itself.
Sitting by the river watching the bands
As well as the bands we’d met on the bus – who were both brilliant – we saw Malian music legends Salif Keita and Rokia Traore. However, my top tip for the next big thing from the festival is a band called Sauti Sol, a really fun band with very excellent dance moves who may or may not be the Kenyan equivalent of JLS . . .
After the live music finished we headed to the after-party in a “moto-taxi”, which is basically a little cart towed along by a scooter (top speed – not very fast). Lots of dancing with very happy Malians and Peace Corps volunteers later, I fell into bed around 6am, as the call to prayer began to echo over Ségou.
It was really a perfect weekend, made even better by the fact that we got to sleep under the stars (well, under mosquito nets under the stars) in the courtyard of the lady putting us up for the weekend, the lovely Awa.
Sleeping under the stars
The icing on the cake was our very stylish journey home in a 1989 American ambulance which was being driven by two American guys, Mike and Steve aka the Last Responders, who had shipped it over to Liverpool and then driven it to Bamako as part of the Timbuktu Challenge. The ambulance is due to be handed over to the Salif Keita Foundation this week, who will be using it as a mobile clinic for albinos in Mali.
Steve, Mike and the ambulance
In other news, I have bought loads more gorgeous fabrics so will shortly be heading to the tailors for a Mali makeover.
Also, I got my first bit of post from home yesterday – thank you Tom, you made my day! Seems like letters take about a month to get to Bamako, so if anyone does fancy putting pen to paper then please do it soon to make sure it gets here before I leave.