Yes, hello, I don’t find it dumb at all. In fact, I know some of the archaeologists who have been working along the Niger bend, picking up, among other things, terra cotta ware and some ritual objects. There has been a lot of looting in these areas as well, and objects will show up in the drawers of some Malian (I know one Dogon) antiquities’ dealers.My doctoral work was in linguistic anthropology, but focusing on East Africa. I may get in touch with a Malian linguistic colleague here who is now working in human rights.
There is a two-volume novel entitled Segou, by Maryse Conde, which is a fictional reconstruction of an earlier period.
As an US embassy dependent spouse, I am not permitted to leave the city limits of Timbuktu and am required to fly there. I am not sure what the East Asian influence you are referring to is, unlikely to be in the pottery or the art forms, the aggressive Chinese penetration of Africa, perhaps? The Chinese are ahead of all the western countries. One indicator of this is that in the downtowns of many of the west African capitals one sees ordinary Chinese, working as merchants and living with about the same living standards as Africans. One does NOT see even the US Peace Corps doing that. In Bamako, there are numerous sandwich kiosks run by and personned by Vietnamese (the Vietnamese make wonderful sandwiches, which we discovered living in Ho Chi Minh City).
What I am really trying to do is get back to gainful employment. I was working for the last several years in animal and human influenza but as there were fewer deaths than expected (although the scope of the pandemic was broad) the bottom fell out of that market and then donors lowered their funding and activity priorities. While I was working on that I had the chance to visit around twenty countries, including Nepal, where I lived for about four years. I was spoiled by being able to collect Tibetan carpets and Newari Buddhist statuary (probably the finest made in the world now) and visiting all of these places which I wish I had seen before, including Yemen – fascinating, if supposedly dangerous.
I have tried getting into work with Amnesty, but my experience does not seem to qualify me for that. I thoroughly enjoyed working in South Sudan where my own personal bomb shelter was something of a comfort. Unfortunately, now the early post-conflict pioneers are out of Sudan and the establishment development experts from USAID and numerous other agencies are set up in Juba, whereas my center of operations was a small place called Yei.
So it’s back to sending off CVs and trying for work in HIV/AIDS communication, something about which I am not sceptical, and which I know works, if done properly. Abstinence, fidelity and condoms, at least we know they work.
I just did one of those mortality projections and it says that I will live to 97, which leaves 27 years to come up with something.
I am not sure where the suggestion to go to the Caribbean and go diving came from. My one experience with diving was in Honduras, where I dove off the Bay Islands. I was greatly disappointed. I felt as if I were in a zoo, but underneath the water. One of the most underwhelming experiences I have had. I had about as much fun off the coasts of Kenya and eastern Indonesia snorkelling.
I have friends and property in Dakar, am on the board of directors of the social marketing organization there and am thinking of doing the Dakar-Goree 5 km. swim again this year, after a two-year hiatus. In general, after the East Coast of Africa, I do not see why people go to the beaches there. It is similar to the experience I had skiing in the Northeast US. I skied for the first time at Squaw Valley, so a cloudy day in New Hampshire skiing on what I thought of as ice was a bit of a come-down.
I don’t suppose being an embassy dependent is what is stifling so much as not working. There are some intelligent people at the embassy, but at a certain point they become so apolitical that people spend time guessing who they might have voted for. Part of this repression is due to the USG regulation about State not permitting expression of political affiliation inside the embassy. This spreads to life outside the embassy.
You should certainly see Mali some time, especially the mosques along the Niger and the Dogon villages below the Bandiagara escarpment. The latter is a UNESCO World Heritage site and deserves to be.
“White with mixed heritage” mystifies me, when you add that there were ancestors from Mali. I am Czech-German-Croatian-French-Irish with possible Catholic-Hussite and Jewish forbears, brought up as Catholic.
I am very ill at ease in these public fora. I share different things with different people and am incapable of not saying something that someone will not find offensive.
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