Monday, January 03, 2005

bad day to be a chicken . . .

new years eve is a bad day to be a chicken in mali. everyone prepares chicken with onion, carrot and a couple other veggies (peppers and ?) on new years. the coulibaly's went out and bought 10! everywhere there were chickens being killed (cut the throat) and defeathered, either straight away or after being soaked in hot water for a bit. then the women butcher the chickens and start em cookin.
ba and i got the new years started by getting stuffed with this fresh chicken at the coulibaly house. full and in new outfits (ba in new 'american' jeans, shirt, hat and me in a bogolan boubou and hat) we got in our rented taxi and started out. picked up allison and sidy and headed across the river to visit abdoul doumbia and one of sidy's friends, chris. got to abdoul's house, found a bunch of toubabs drinking beer and hanging out. sekou camara was also there, which was nice to see him. we hung out for a while, then i found out abdoul was home, so i found him, also good to see him again. sidy made the mistake of inviting our taxi driver into the house here, and he was part of our party for the rest of the night. not really a bad thing, just kind of wierd. here we are, four friends, with this tag along guy. but who are we to deny him a happy new year party as well?
we then headed over to ramata diakite's house, as she had invited me over earlier in the day. we hung out a bit with her and her husband, and again, got fed lots and lots of chicken. this was also good stuff, but it was farafin chicken, not the toubab chicken we had at the coulibaly's. the difference will be apparent shortly. toubab chicken are like toubabs, well fed (maybe over fed), farafin chickens are like africans (farafin), fed.
this was the awkward part with the taxi man. ramata's husband basically told him to stay with the car, but he came in and sat down and ate with us anyway. too funny. also funny was ramata's guardian (house guardian) trying to take all of our picture. i don't think the guy had ever held a camera, much less a crazy one like mine with parts sticking out all over the place. i explained how to take a picture, he said he understood, then he looked in the viewfinder and pointed the camera at the ceiling. nice. we'll see how the picture turns out, but it was too funny. midnight struck as we were at ramata's house, and firecrackers were going off all over the place. more about them later.
we then headed out to one of the free concerts happening on new years. all the clubs were charging ridiculous prices, fine for a toubab alone, but not happening for a toubab with 2 malians in tow. prices started at 5000 cfa (10 bucks) and went up from there. i actually don't think there was admission under 20 bucks anywhere that night. this in a country where 70 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day. a well paid functionary can bring home somewhere around 2000 dollars a year, but the artists i hang out with are making about 20 - 40 bucks a month from ceremonies. so how they got away with charging this stuff is beyond me, except that there are lots of toubabs and mali's small middle class must all come out on new years.
so we headed for the tower of africa, where ORTM, the malian tv station was having one of their 3 live shows. big crowd, artists lip synching to recordings which sometimes worked, and lots of firecrackers. (mom stop reading) it was a little unnerving, a little exciting. i think we were the only 2 toubabs in the crowd. anyway, we stuck around for a little bit, but we bailed after a particularly large explosion close by. allison was pretty unnerved, and that's probably good, cause i would have been happy to stick around, which was probably not the best idea. anyway, we headed out, looking for a cabine telepone to call moussa and joh and find out what was up with them. we couldn't get ahold of moussa, but found joh at his mother's house with his toubab crew. we found them, and again were stuffed with tasty chicken. i had enough, my stomach was about to burst. so we just chilled at joh's for a sec, letting our bellies expand for the chicken.
we then headed out to try and find a spot to dance the rest of the night away. oumou sangare had finished her concert, and by the time we got to the paradise club, it was after 4 am. so we bailed, leaving joh and crew to dance it up for us. made it home by 5 and got a good couple hours of sleep before the new year officially started . . .

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