Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day Four after the coup in Mali: Life goes on..

It is March 24th, 2012 – the third day Abdoulaye and I have been confined to the house and we are getting a little antsy.  We decide to take a walk after the heat of the day has subsided and before the curfew begins at 6 p.m.  We shutter the windows and lock the front door, and the door opening into the courtyard, behind us.  We walk past the train station near the house and pass women with bags of lettuce on their heads as they return from a nearby garden.  Further along, young guys run up and down a dirt field passing a tired looking soccer ball between them – coup d'état or not, the game must go on.

We turn a corner onto another dirt road and pass a woman getting fake nails super glued onto her fingers by Kadi, a woman who sells weaves and hair creams out of a metal shack shop.  Baara jigina? the woman asks.  “Done with work??” I reply, “There is no work – we just had a coup d'état!”  A baana, she says, sweeping her free hand in front of her to emphasize her point.  It's all over.  

 The paved road nearby buzzes with Sotramas, taxis, and motorcycles.  “Taxi, taxi?” drivers shout at us as they zip by.  Moribabgugu- hey! Moribabugu! boys shout as they hang out the side door of the Sotramas, yelling out the names of the neighborhoods they are driving towards.  Women with heavy make-up and tightly coiled braids piled on top of their heads pass by – dimanche est le jour du mariage à Bamako after all.  I just can't imagine getting married in times like this but life cannot be put on hold forever, can it?  

Looking around it is hard to believe the coup d'état has even happened.  Stores have slowly reopened around us and, aside from the fancy grocery store that has remained closed (except for yesterday morning) for fear of looting, life goes on. 

I live in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town far from (well, not next to anyways) administrative buildings and the presidential palace.  While we heard gunshots the first few days, now the only bang, bang, bang we hear comes from the sound of men pounding wax into bazin outfits to make them crisp and shiny – presumably to be worn at one of the weddings or baptisms that are about to take place. 

 While thievery has not been a problem in our neighborhood, looting has been a problem in Bamako since the coup took place early Thursday morning.  There are stories of 4x4s being stolen, shops being robbed, and private residences raided as military and civilians alike take advantage of the disorder and confusion left in the wake of the coup.  

Massaran is a friend of mine who lives in the apartment building caddy-corner to my former apartment where I lived above Ma Diallo's family.  She has come over each day since the coup to pass the time and chat about what is going on.  This morning she came over and said that last night a truck of about ten soldiers searched the house where I lived last year looking for one of Ma Diallo's sons who is a solider.  Massaran said they were looking for him to redistribute the goods he had stolen during the coup – including a 4x4 and two Sotramas worth of goods.  She said Ma, normally a fiery woman, meekly told them to search the house but that her son was not there and she did not know where he was.  Massaran said that the days before her son and the family paraded around the neighborhood bragging about their newfound riches and how cunning Ma's son was to have stolen all that he did.  I am so thankful I am not in that apartment anymore – I have no doubt that an encounter like that would have traumatized me.  

We continue to listen to RFI and watch ORTM (when they broadcast reports) and France24 to monitor the progress of the situation.  ATT's whereabouts are still unknown and each time they show clips from the raided palace I shake my head.  The ripple effects of Gadhafii's war in Libya have truly made their way to Mali in ways I could not have imagined and it is hard to believe that less than a year ago I was at the presidential palace celebrating the inauguration of a new group of PCVs.  Now it lies in shambles – burned, broken, and riddled with bullets – and ATT is nowhere to be found.

Abdoulaye and I are trying to remain optimistic.  Thank goodness for electricity and our internet key.  There has been no decision made to evacuate yet and we are hanging tight until Tuesday when work is supposed to begin again.  Until then we are watching movies, playing cards, and studying Susu (well, I am – Abdoulaye already speaks it pretty well :)  I am thinking of everyone back home and sending you love.  While I cannot say here doron be yan, that there is only peace here, I am hoping I will be able to soon.  

A blog with links to lots of Mali news.  Fascinating post about Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the coup.  A Kenyan minister was safely evacuated.   Will there be a counter-coup?


  1. So glad you are out of your old place Jennifer! How icky. Keep safe and I hope everything will right itself soon, inshallah.

  2. Wow, echoing the previous comments - good to hear you do not live in your old place or too close to the chaos. Your post reminds me of the looting after the earthquake and tsunami in Chile. Although the military did not have a coup de etat they did put a 6 pm curfew as well and Marshall law. We only went out of the house to wait in lines for water and had no electricity or gas. It all becomes so surreal when you are in the middle of it and have no idea what is going on but know the world around you has 24 coverage! Stay safe and cool & glad to see you are remaining optimistic and that you have internet to communicate with your loved ones back home! Thanks for such an informative post!

  3. Really well written post! Extremely interesting.

  4. Thank you for your sweet words and for reading friends!

  5. While this a very different situation than the one I experienced in Syria, I can relate to the feelings of uncertainty. Hang in there!




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