It rained during the night- a heavy long rain accompanied by a violent tempest with great fork lightning. Rains are unusual in April in Mali. It was seen as a sign of good fortune and boded well for the ceremony, although the rain had destroyed some of the mud plastering which had taken place during the day. However, according to the old Manding sages, the fact that the mud had descended from the Kaba was not due to the fact of the rain, but rather the young maidens and young men that had carried out the plastering had proved themselves to be lacking in the following: the Kaba must be plastered by young girls who are still maidens, and young men who are legitimate: born within wedlock.
The following day there was a rapid hunt around town for new girls, and those that carried out the replastering this time had not even reached puberty, just to be certain….
Photography is not allowed at the Kaba-Blo, so alas I cannot show any images. All telephones must be turned off. The spectators are kept at bay while the locals carry out their age –old ceremony with little regard for the assembled crowd which included many great Malinke politicians and Bamako dignitaries, as well as Habib Koite, himself a griot and musician of international fame. The Kaba hut itself is sitting in a large compound by two ancient and large Silk Cotton Trees.
A group of ceremonial hunters and local griots walk around the hut, chanting melodious incantations. Eventually the grass roof is raised and slowly placed on the hut, during much drumming and chanting. Legend has it that the roof will raise up and place itself by its own accord.
And that was about it! Was it worth the hurried return from Guinea?
We were all a little disappointed but for different reasons: I because I couldn’t see or hear very well, and Keita and the others because they didn’t think that anything magical had actually happened!
This is an interesting difference between Africans and Toubabs; Africans actually believe in Magic, while Toubabs are keen on these traditional events because they are charming and uphold traditions which may otherwise be lost….
And what about poor Mali itself? I have left until end June, I am writing this in the comfort of Bloomsbury, London,…