It’s 40 degrees Celsius and our skin is sticky. There is so much noise, people constantly moving, taxi drivers screaming directions, prices shouted, and sellers calling out to clients. The sun is rising, but inside the market it is completely dark. Pieces of cloth and large plastic bags protect the stalls, the food and the people from the rising heat of the day. The place looks like a beehive of activity.
Mwajuma* was 15 in rural Shinyanga when her parents informed her she would not be going to school anymore – she was getting married. She never objected. Several of her peers had similarly had their schooling terminated and were already busy taking care of their own families. Neither did she object to the fact she was to be the second wife – this too was commonplace among her peers. But the marriage did not last.
Compared to Dakar, from where I traveled to get to my job at the World Bank, the city of Bamako is the image of tranquility, with sultry temperatures and long siestas, as described so vividly by Albert Londres in Terre d’Ebène. An invaluable work for understanding the Mali of the past, and perhaps the present? There has definitely been a shift, but the country is still known for the heat and a certain languor. It depends on imports from neighboring countries for everything, particularly goods and services, “and even fashion, or ideas!” a friend sometimes notes with irony.