04 - 06 - 2014

Here we are - in Bamako (Mali) - it is very hot: 35°+. We have seen many UN soldiers, nice Mali officials, exited traders selling SIM cards.

We are staying at Julien Chauvet in the Quartier Hippodrome. Julien is working for a NGO here in Mali. The house a nice yard with our „guarding monkey“ („George“).

Yesterday evening we were out on Rue Bla Bla (that what it‘s called) having some beers and grilled chicken, with a great hot chili sauce, traditionally made the same way for thousands of years, passed on from generation to generation. That is exactly the music we are looking for.

This morning we met our guide Sidibe Boss. He is working with international music producers, and guides them to find local musicians. We asked him to take us to as many concerts as possible. And we would like to meet the Balafon player of Ben Zabo‘s Band, whom Schneider had seen before in Berlin.

Everybody talks about the war in the North of Mali. Tourism in Mali has stopped completely, because all the tourist sites are in the desert region in the northern provinces. Sidibe used to make his living guiding tourists, now he takes war journalists to Tambouctou, Gao, Kidal.

At the end of this first full day in Bamako, we feel like we have been here for a week. The Impressions are manyfold and intense.

We saw several music-groups, e.g. in the „District of Bamako“. With some of them Dirk spontaneously improvised. We went to the „Marché du féticheures“ with lots of dead animal relicts: snakes, insects, dried heads of monkeys, hyenas, mules and other unidentifiable to us. With very special smells. We walked to the art market: We felt like being the only tourists on this market for weeks or months and so we were thoroughly marketed with many products: necklaces, instruments, tire-soled-shoes, kola-nuts (tasty and refreshing!) and many carved products: from chairs to life size hippo-statues.

At night we went to Coin Rouge, a nightclub near by with a massive sound system.

The Saba Woussouf Group played:  one guitar and 5 drums: mostly Senegal-style Saba drums, played with one hand and one stick (and literally a stick, not a drumstick) and they were not amplified, but still extremely loud, like pyrotechnics.

The polyrhythmic craze of the drums repeatedly climaxed simultaneously with highly energetic moving of the dancers. Each dancer locked eyes with the lead drummer, and you cannot say who is reacting to whom in this high energy vortex.

At the end the guitar player extroverted himself Hendrix-style, using his Stratocaster either very phallic or like a rifle.

>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2OjpFp4tCQ

Early in the morning Sidibe Boss, whom everybody in Bamako seems to know, finalized a DJ Gig for Schneider TM at the „Coin Rouge“ for the 28th of June.

05 - 06 - 2014

This morning Georges, the house-monkey had to be retrieved for the 3rd time from his tangled leash. His radius restricted to a few centimeters. Nobody except for us seems to mind.

We drive to the other side of the Niger. The river is very wide, no current visible and on both banks wide marshlands where laundry is done and goats graze.

We visit Studio Mali. Founded in 2002 by Konan Kouassi and Paul Chandler. Uncountable albums have been produced here and the music of the desert has been connected with the urban music of West Africa. >> http://www.studiomali.com Konan is a very friendly and very competent producer and sound engineer. Here he recorded the new Samba Tourè Album, from which Schneider remixed the Hit „Be Ki Don“ as „Cockpit Dub“. Schneider plays his remix to Konan, but we can‘t really say if he likes it. Konan plays his latest productions to us. Totally mind-blowing are the two albums from Lamine Traorè. His wife is Japanese and he mixes his african music with Japanese elements. Beautiful! Konan says that business is down. More and more young artists just record with their phones and save the investment in a professional studio recording.

We try to reach the Balafon-player from Ben Zabos Band, but he is out of town. On Saturday Ben Zabo and band is playing a club-concert and we are really looking forward to that.

After the thunderstorm in the night the air is heavily humid.

We visit the best internet-cafe of Bamako with a satellite-connection to upload the homepage.

Still the connection is lame like a 56k modem.

Friday and Saturday will be long nights with lots of concerts so we go for a relaxed evening on the terrace, sort and label videos and pictures and Karim gives us some more Bambara lessons.

06 - 06 - 2014

After heavy rain at night the mosquitos arrive. The mosquito nets don’t stay at the flimsy ceiling and keep falling off again.

Get up to fix it again or better just keep on sleeping ?

Breakfast at „La Relax“, a lebanese-french cafe with a very high standard for local levels.

On every visit there we see another combination of german Bundeswehrsoldaten, clumsy with their desert camouflage and the guns on their legs.

Although we are here for just 2 days, we saw such a lot of bitter poverty, that the display with all those cream pies & tarts in this cafe seem not far from pervert.

There’s two mountains in the north of Bamako.

On one of them we can see the white & clean palace of Mali’s president and on the other one, which is called ‚Point G‘, there’s the broadcasting station of TV Mali next to a brand new & abandoned fitness-court with an incredible view over the whole city of Bamako.

We are working out to get in shape for the day:

>> http://youtu.be/ZOg4EbSItgk

Philippe, the manager of Samba Tourè is ill, so instead of meeting him we visit the national museum of Mali. We are the only & first visitors since quite a while.

The museum is quite small but it features an impressive mask- & fetish section.

Wonderful statues - impressive as we have rarely seen before.

Then we enter the darker section with Dogon masks & fetishes.

In two displays there’s Kono-fetishes of the Dogon: one creepy monster head with horns & porcupine hair and one ‚doubleface‘ with two open mouths.

Before we walk towards the masks Sidibe talks quietly but intensely with the ‚doubleface‘.

He tells us about the strong power & force of these fetishes…totally impressed we walk out of the museum.

We drive across the river, first through an area of embassies (also the german one)and small office buildings (the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung is protected by 3 meter high walls, Nato-barbwire and security service).

At the end of the street we enter a cluster of small huts - a young woman leads us through muddy trails, along goat corrals and sleeping huts towards a deep freezer. In the freezer there’s big ice blocks and giant catfish called ‚Capitaines‘ from the nearby river Niger.

We buy a small catfish. Next to a couple of long boats children play with goats at the river shore.

On the way back to our house we pass a white painted pantomime sporting the African Union logo on his chest. Everyone around him is delighted and takes photos.

Back at home Sidibe cooks the catfish with a delicious vegetable sauce for us.

After chilling out for a while we leave the house around 11pm to experience a Friday night in Bamako. First we check out the ‚Sira‘, an open air bar run by a frenchman.

It’s a beautiful, relaxed location under the night sky with many white people who are obviously not backpackers but well dressed young & a few older French who drink red wine and seem to us a bit like an inaccessible post-colonial relict. They are embassy- and UN-workers and the whole setting reminds us somehow of the scene at the french colonial estate in the director’s cut of Apocalypse Now.

The band plays europeanized afro-music and we leave the spot for good, back to ,Coin Rouge’, now to become our second home in Bamako.

The sound and quality of the band at ,Coin Rouge’ is obviously more in synch with our taste & souls. ‚Playing tight doesn’t necessarily mean to play straight on the point‘, Schneider elaborates,’ Precision is about playing the right tone in the right moment and that isn’t something one can count.’

The band features a drum-set, electric bass, kora and three rotating guitarists. The lead singer is an elder Rastafarian but without dreadlocks & flags and he sings in a somewhat arabian style that we have heard in some of the Tuareg recordings before.

The concept of the evening is: The band grooves like hell whilst the singer and a second MC walk from table to table and improvise lyrics about the guests, especially about their good qualities - How they are good looking in their handsome cloths, that there’s going to be good fortune in their lives soon etc..

They continue singing at the table until the protagonist of the text pays them money. Wonderful !

We have some local beer & eat ,brouchette’, wooden sticks with incredibly tasty small chunks of grilled beef, onions & hot chilly sauce.

The next stop is the ‚Obama Club‘, a hotspot for the young people in Bamako. Obama, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela & Bob Marley gratifies are all over the walls, teens on the dance floor dancing to african samba-remixes, Bob Marley and Tiken Jah Fakoly.

07 - 06 - 2014

Today our car broke down, a well sounding Mercedes 190 D. It seems as if all the cars in Bamako are 190 Ds in the colors we know from our childhood in Germany (this plumpish red) and many are painted in new powerful colors like bright green-yellow or gold metallic. You can see the smart recycling system that is running here - the cars are brought here to deliver spare parts for everybody.

Having no car we had to change to motor cycles Schneider-easy-Rider with Arved on a Yamaha copy and Sidibe with Julian on a Chinese KTM. Traffic is chaotic but smooth, because everybody takes care - not looking at the traffic lights but at each other.

Our trip takes us to the Niger river at the Eastern outskirts of Bamako to an ancient holy site of the Sufi. Since 2002 a huge bridge, built by the Chinese for the Africa Football Cup, runs over it, everywhere plastic bags the river as carried here. But still the place is full of magic.The riverbed is made of black volcanic moonlike looking stone, hundreds of martins flying all around, and the heat gave it a surreal glimmering. Right here the Sufi build round stone huts to pray and to sacrifice for fetishes. On several of the stones is written with white paint: „ALAKIRA“ "ALA=Allah; KIRA= The Prophet" or "VIOLENCE ALAKIRA".

Sidibe wants to be alone for a minute and goes to the river to pray - it sounds like rap for the spirits.

Back in Bamako we are having a break in the court yard of of the small hotel "Tamala" - on our way back we will stay here, because our current place at J. Chauvet's is quite messy and full of rotten things in the kitchen.

Our next date is with Paul Chandler who runs of Studio Mali. Whe meet him and his production manager Anza in the "Bla Bla Bar", the finest place in Bamako. The place is full of French, Chinese and many soldiers. Our meeting is very interesting - to know more about the country and its troubled history, but also about the extremely rich music scene. Paul more or less stopped his Studio Mali project, because the music industry is basically not existent anymore. You don't find disc shops. File sharing of music from elsewhere is the thing. Paul is teaching at the International School and working on a film documentation of Mali‘s music and a reconciliation concert program with 20 communities all over the country, but mainly in the North. At home he has more than 80 guitars that he uses as a kind of currency for making music: people at charity concerts pay with a guitar, musicians play for a guitar.

With Paul and Anza we go to the "Savana" - a typical open air restaurant with live music. Baba Salah from Gao in the North of Mali is playing his desert tunes. Paul introduces and Schneider is invited to join in. Together they played an Ali Faka Tourè song. Great stuff.

Next stop is the music club "Radio Libre Bamako" of famous Tiken Jah Fokoly.

>> https://www.facebook.com/pages/Radio-Libre-Bamako/145947002113503

Music on two floors: downstairs we find Ben Zabo (who has rocked  the Berghain in Berlin last year.). This guy is highly energetic and he and his band play great Afro Beat tunes. Schneider and Ben Zabo are happy to see each other again.

On the second floor we find a bigger stage (+/- 300 seats) and an audience floor packed with chairs and people. A local football team is being featured, and the band and dancers celebrate for them. Among them a small woman that seems to be close to giving birth. That did not stop her from dancing like crazy for the football players.

After the football team a generous donator who gave a lot of money to the band is celebrated. The band not just plays for him, they sing about him, telling what a great person he is. We think that could a fun idea to introduce that to the german music scene. We discuss which german band we would give 2500,-€ to sing about us for 5 minutes during a concert: Arved: Rammstein, Schneider: DAF, Julian: Tocotronic.

It's super late when we finally drive home. The taxis exhaust is missing and we fly on a sub-bass cloud over the black Niger.

08 - 06 - 2014

At 5 am we got up after 2 hours of sleep and Sidibe brought us to the Bus Station. We entered a big travel bus for our 10 hour journey to Bobo-Dioulassou.

The bus is sold out and the atmosphere very relaxed.The manifold children sit on their mothers or other relatives laps, chilling or smiling curiously at us.

The further we get out of the stretched outskirts of Bamako the nicer and cleaner the villages get. Mostly no wall roof spaces, cubicle huts and round mud-huts with grass-roofs, little mosques and big school centers.

At the roadside, like in the big city Bamako, everything  imaginable offered for sale. One can see farm animals:donkeys, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, etc., and small stands with motor oil for thousands of motorcycles and mopeds. Nature is extremely green and just like the pictures of the Garden of Eden, as it was shown to us as children in picture books. In front of almost all the houses is a Mercedes Benz 190 D and simultaneously we see existential poverty.

After c.a. 6 hours we reach the border with Burkina Faso. During the entire emigration/immigration process everybody has to leave the bus 5 times for a stamp, or customs and so on. Meanwhile, we buy nuts, drinks, bananas and try to smoke but after two drags we are hurried back in. The procedure is pleasantly relaxed. The Burkinabe border guards pull a few jokes in German about us and we are sitting in lawn chairs in the shade of a thatched roof, while we wait for the stamp.

In Burkina Faso, the villages along the roadside seem very picturesque and the earth between the lush green has a deep red color. If you see people in the midday heat, they plow fields or sit in the shade.

Children play soccer or jump laughing around. On one of the boarder stops seems to be a wild self organized group of probable orphans.

We had different first impression of Burkina Faso expected after what we were told in Mali. After another hour drive through breathtaking nature with almost no plastic garbage we reach Bobo-Dioulasso. Here it comes with c.a. 500,000 inhabitants, much more relaxed than in Bamako with ca 3.5 million. Ismael, the taxi driver who was sent from our accommodation to the bus station, greeted us with loud laughter, pats us on our back and cracks jokes in English. We ask him about Balafonists and concerts. He gives us rough information about the rich local music scene and recommends a trip to Gaoua, the center of the Lobi community with extremely good Balafonists. I (Schneider) ask him if he knows Hien Bihoulete, one of the perhaps still living Balafonists from Gaoua playing on two CDs which are the starting point of this journey, and after a moment's thought, he says, 'Sure, of course, still plays every weekend in Gaoua." I do not know if I should laugh or cry and doubt: maybe there is a misunderstanding because of my bad French pronunciation.

We check into the B & B Villa Bobo and feel at home immediately. In the evening we go to a Maquis (large yard with kitchen, stage & sound system) for something to eat. Later  there is a hip-hop try out concert for local youth organizations. After he personally greeted us from the stage and he had thanked the Communist Workers Party, he announces Cool-Man' who proclaimed his message to two playbacks . We are unfortunately dead tired from the trip and must leave although we would prefer to stay. The other performers are disappointed and sell us at least another 2 CDs with traditional music from the region. One of the albums is played by a group from Japan. The next morning we were greeted by the house-tortoise "Mais".

09 - 06 - 2014

At Villa Bobo the three of us sleep together in a small room. We still got to find our operating mode: window open, fan on, AC off (costs extra) or window closed, fan off, AC on?

At Villa Bobo we get a proper french breakfast.

We recover from the drive the day before and organize our stay in Bobo. The owner, Xavier, is a great help: He describes the situation for musicians in Bamako: Very high demand for live-music but also very much musicians and bands on offer.

In Burkina two thirds of the people live of less then a dollar a day. A quarter of children die in childbirth or don't reach their first birthday. Life expectancy is less then 50 years. The selfsufficient farming culture, that is making the situation a little bearable, is now under threat from an especially stupid G8 initiative.

In short: self sufficient farmers will be relocated, the land will be equipped with a a watering system, paid with G8 money, and then it will be rented taxfree by big agriculture companies. So farming families can't support themselves, with luck, some will be employed in the agricultural company, with very bad working conditions, poverty becomes desperation.

At Villa Bobo we meet a nice belgian couple who help us with a french translation of the blog.

Xavier connects us with Wamian. Wamian is a musician and together with his wife Helene owner of the Salmanke, the Maquis where we spent the previous evening.

Wamians father is a Balafon-player who played with Farafina, a very successful group from Bobo from the 80ies and 90ies. They played Montreux Jazz Festival and at Nelson Mandelas Birthday Party in Wembley Stadium and toured a lot.

Wamian plays his music: very warm, melodic afro-hip-hop with traditional instruments. The lyrics are usually centered around political or society themes.

Wamian was born in a Griot family. Griots are musicians, but also reporters and commentators of important events or conflicts. And as heirs to their forfathers songs they hold the historical knowledge of a village, a town or a region.

Within the traditional class- and caste-system of Westafrica the Griots form a single strictly separated caste. The only other similarly separated caste are the blacksmiths.

Both are magically/spiritually connotated. The blacksmiths are masters of the fire, producers of weapons and instruments for circumcision, the Griots are masters of songs and stories.

Even during the last century a noble landowner could marry the daughter of a slave, but not the daughter of a Griot.

The Griots themselves were only allowed to marry into other Griot families or respectively into blacksmith families. This lead to Griots family, e.g. the Diabatè family,  beeing spread over Guinea, The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Cotes D'Ivoire.

In the evening Wamian and his wife Heölene com by and we play music and videos to each other. He has some special recordings from next-level shows. He will try to introduce us to a band tomorrow, and maybe we are lucky to hear his father play.

We show him the cover of the Lobi CDs: Tiaporté, Traore, Bihoulétè, but he doesn't know them. But for real great Balafon music we got to go to Lobi Country he says

10 - 06 - 2014

We are getting our data in order and eating some mutton meat next corner. on every street you'll find tiny shops where cigarettes, fruits, grilled corn or meat is been sold.

Our friend Sarata from Berlin who grew up in Bobo told us a lot about the great town, ut we are more then overwhelmed. The people are very kind and open minded. Food is ne od the best we ever tasted.

Later we take a café touba - a coffee with ginger and other spices. It tastes awesome.

Back in the Salmanké we meet Wamian. He introduces us to the musicians of "Cheik Chow". Two bass coras, a metal piece o steel for high pitch beats. The cora originated from the ancient N`Goni.

Cheik Chow plays great: it sounds massive and intense, like some "drone music". Goes perfectly together with our juice with rum.

The musicians tell us that they would like to record an album, but it takes about 400.000 CFS (about 600 EUR) to pay the production.

We drive to the music instrument museum of Bobo. It is quite small, but nevertheless very informative and interesting. First we see a half an hour documentation about the traditional music of BF. E.g. we learn more about the ancient King's drum "Gan", that must have been built out of a tree that fell with a strong noise, with a burnt lions throat inside. The drum needed once a year a human as sacrifice. The drum was heard 40 km far away. Later the French army searched for the drum and destroyed it -since then the King's power has been broken. And newly made drums never will gain the power of the original Gan.

We see many old instruments in the museum, hunters instruments (like the ones of "Cheik Chow", or Balafons of the Lobi and the senufo - that are both with the same amount of keys, but sound a little different to match the languages of the tribes. The balafon player talks with and through his instrument.

We continue our trip with Wamian and visit his father, Baba Diarre. We enter a beautiful court yard where all the family is waiting - brothers, sisters, cousins, kids and an old man in a spectacular suit sitting on a old wooden couch in front of the most beautiful Balafon we have ever seen. Built by Issouf Keita. You see it and just understand it's not just an instrument but a piece of art. Not comparable to the rural instruments we saw at the museum. He plays amazingly. Very refined, high-end music. A musician who would honor every big philharmonic stage with his presence. It's a music that is not just so brilliant though it doesn't know Bach, it is so brilliant though it does know Bach.

Sadly we have to leave soon. Wamian checks for a concert tonight, but it's a tuesday and and nothing much is happening.

We walk through the streets to the Bolomakotè: A street with a bunch of bars and maquis. On weekends it might be something like Reeperbahen, but tonight only two joints are open and we choose the one with the loud music. It's some kind of Bobo-Baile-Funk: traditional rhythms and dubstep, auto tuned vocals and distorted baselines.

20/30 guests are sitting on plastic chairs drinking Brakina (local beer, tasty! and with Yin-Yang on the label.)

There are many old big Mango trees and quite big fruit-bats fly from tree to tree. When the music is dow we hear them beep.

11 - 06 - 2014

Our date with Wamian is in the afternoon, so we sort our material and do a little sightseeing: Old mosque and the old quarter next door. There are some tourist shops in the old quarter but mainly the quarter wich dates back to the 11th century is inhabited. Between the houses there are little ovens to brew the dolo, fetish shrines; kids are running around. The old quarter is divided into four sections – one has Barca signs everywhere, the other one Real.

We visit the assembly hut where two shrines are located – one for children‘s education one for marriages. Usually hens are sacrificed.

We follow our guide and come to the river- the Fleuve Magique. It runs 10 meters below us, but carrying just little water. One little pond in the river bed is full of fishes. People say, that these fish are holy. If one of the fish dies it is buried. If anyone catches one of these cat fishes to eat it, all the people, animals, plants, simply everything is turned into a fish. Until the stolen fish is brought back safely.

The mosque is really beautiful, old, massive walls from teak and mortar and chalk plaster on top. The characteristical wooden beams coming out of the wall are simply for renewing the plaster without having to use a ladder.

Schneider hits his head heavily entering the small entrance and breaks out some mortar. The inside of the mosque consists mainly of pillars and only small passages in between. A stark contrast to the busy city outside. In the cool corridors lie sleeping man on mattes. We see the stand of the Imam, beside the ancient calling gaps, side by side with a Panasonic microphone for the 70ies speaker on the tower.

We drive to Salmanke and meet Wamian.

We drive to Issouf Keita`s workshop. His Bálafons are desputably the best in the world. We enter a yard, in the shadow are some men working on very small Balafones, there are heaps of dried calebasses. Keita himself is in Mali at the moment. We are greeted by his nephew Genio who is also a Balafon builder. He explains the complicated steps building a Balafon.  From the baking of the wood for the „lames“, over the mounting of the calebasses and the fine-tuning. The instruments look very, very good. Every detail is masterfully crafted and they sound magnificent. Especially in the basses you feel like like heaven and earth are vibrating.

Schneider orders a 12-lame Balafon, build for him. It will be ready when we pass through on our way back.

We show Genio the Covers of our Lobi CDs, but sadly he doesn't know  Tiaporté, Bihoulétè and Tioiontè. We play the Lobi music to them and they have fun with the spaced out Lobi-Style.

We ask were the calebasses are coming from and they show us a little heap in the yard with a small plant where the calebasses grow.

The Keita Balafones are homegrown. The competitors in Switzerland who dominate the european market go for calebasses from mashed paper.

So, if anyone contemplates buying a Balafon go for a Keita: http://baragnouma.com/fr/3_issouf-keita

We are quite euphoric when we leave the workshop. We drive a few corners, get out and the madness continues: We step into a maquis, Dolo (millet beer) is brewed in a smoking oven, and two Balafonists and four drummers sit under matted roofs, ready to play.

The band plays a style we identify as classic Bobo-Music, less refined end elegant then Wamians Baba, but definitely danceable. On some drums the drummer change, but Lead-Balafon, Rhythm Balafon and Djembe stay in the same hands the whole way through.

The music goes through exposition phase, not yet a clear song, but communication between musicians commence: the bandleader (Hakali) starts a dialogue- theme, Rhythm-Balafon picks it up, lays a loop underneath, and Djembe jumps in step-by-step, the theme changes, but the loop stays and Djembe and Lead- Balafon make exchange some dialogue together.

Then everybody is brought in and the groove starts united. And then they SING ABOUT US ! First Wamian, then Schneider, then Julian, then Arved. Every one gets his 3-4 minute Hymn:

„Snai-derrr, Snai-derr, Snai-derr, Snai-derr!! (in pentatonic steps down)

All three of us are honestly touched.

At the end of each hymn the praised one puts a bill on the bandleaders forehead. In the meantime ther are maybe 30 people in the yard, everyone has his calebass with Dolo in front of him. The dancing starts and we want/must dance.

Big amusement everywhere.

We get thoroughly filled with Dolo and after 90 minutes the band is exhausted and after many honest compliments we leave for home.

Following a recommendation from Tina and her friend we go to a street side grill and eat fish with onions and fries and hot sauce. Absolutely fantastic taste. The discussion circles around animism with its fetishes. A religion totally set in the here and now. There is no meta-person, that owns the power, only the concrete, animated object. Somehow we get to NSA, but nothing seems further away on a warm Bobo night sitting at a roadside grill.

12 - 06 - 2014

We are getting up very early and take a taxi with all of our stuff to the bus terminal. We leave at 7:30 and drive 200 km to Boromo to meet a friend of a friend of Schneiders sister. His name is Issaka Yameogo and he will take us to Gaoua. Maybe this contact will later turn out as a lucky connection of circumstances.

Here a big shout out to Silvie Bovarnick & Axel Kiese for their support !

After Croissants and Cafe au lait (instant coffee, powdered milk  and hot water) we go on our journey. The bus is fully booked, no toilet. Not funny for two of us who recreated Jackson Pollock paintings in the Villa Bobo bathroom the night before.

Chauffeur and co-pilot work with an USB - drive on the sound system and we are looking forward to some interesting insights into contemporary african music with auto tune vocals, hard and minimalistic beats and euro trash keyboards. but the first bars of a 80ies Scorpions Hit come up and we shudder.

Luckily they decide to go with the 80ies action flick „Cyborg“ with Jean Claude Van Damme. It runs the next 90 minutes in stark contrast to the beautiful red-green countryside flowing past the windows.

We drive through a national park with invisible elephants and other wild animals.

The road is really good and even more tar is applied to some parts. Suddenly the bus gets hot and we stop on the highway in the middle of heavy traffic.

The Co-Pilot gets out a rubber belt from under the driver seat and jumps out the door. We wait and it takes time, the AC broke down. We get outside to stretch our legs. Out of the distance a group of young women with different bags on their heads comes towards us. The hot air is sizzling and their shapes are blurry, they pass the bus without interest and carry on into nowheres land.

We get on again and speed the final kilometers to Boromo. Boromo turns out to be a multi-facetted market town and seems to be a major crossing point in the middle between Bobo and Ouagadougou.

Issaka is already waiting at bus when we arrive and and warmly welcomes us.

He speaks better german than us, because he is an official consultant for german teachers and has been lots of times in Germany and Europe.

We sit down in a bar and drink Brakina, the very refreshing local beer and tell each other parts of our lives. Once again we are moved by the honest and careful warmth that we are welcomed with everywhere on our journey.

What we miss in Germany sometimes is here so abundant and there is so little of what is so abundant at home.

There are many children between 5 and 12 with open tins on a string at Boromo bus station ask ing for money. We would love to give everyone a bill, and some we do give some coins, but Issaka says they might be groups organized by adults and have to kick up their findings to their family-substity. Even the children we disappoint greet us smiling with a „high five“.

The bus to Gaoua doesn’t appear. 2 hours late already. The waiting strains our substance and we eat a tasty Baguette with egg and hot fish sauce.

Busses park front to front and hit their horns until one buckles down and reverses.

Two old gentleman greet us, extremely elegant with walking canes, traditional garb, neon-coloured football shoes and very cool sunglasses.

From far we hear clunking metal and reggae music. Our bus arrives, over and over painted with Bob Marley and Che Guevara portraits including side-view mirrors and tire-caps in rasta-colours. They blew a tire short of Boromo.

We check in our luggage and cramble for the last free seats.

The driver speeds up towards south. He hits the horn constantly and hard and cyclists, mothers with children on their backs, pigs, cows, goats and many more jump out of the way in the last second to let us pass and save their lives.

Meanwhile - after some reggae - they are playing some unbelievable beautiful minimal but hard rocking afro-music: only snare and a bell-like, just a little bit distorted electric guitar. Reminding of a combination of ghanaan High Life and the first Album of Großenkneten’s Band TRIO.

The landscape becomes more intense in its red-green three dimensional spectacularity. It seems to be very good for farming. Lots of potato fields and little lakes. Little villages - some already in traditional Lobi architecture: no entrance door but a trunk-ladder to get over the wall - and camps where gold diggers stay with big SUVs and motor bikes.

At one point the mechanic of the bus opens the a floor metal piece, because he heard a strange noise and does his inspection while driving. We see the road under our feet.

From time to time we stop in small villages where people get off and on; food end beverages are sold.

On our last stop before Gaoua a young woman gets on the bus to sell nuts but while waiting for the exchange money the bus drives on. Everybody is laughing on the Rasta-bus - she has to come with us all the way to Gaoua.

After our arrival in Gaoua an old friend of Issaka, Reno, picks us up with his 190 D. Issaka lived and worked in Gaoua for many years as a teacher and hasn’t been here so he is happy to join us to visit his father in law and old friends.

We drive to our Auberge that is made of the typical brick stones. The court yard is beautiful, full of shady trees - geckos are our new pats.

Gaoua has about 20.000 inhabitants and is much calmer and more rural that Bobo. Everything and everybody seems to be more relaxed. We are in one of the poorest regions of BF, but it seems to be well structured with is local agriculture.

Issaka has an old friend who plays the balafon himself and who knows many other musicians. We’ll meet him for dinner. We head off in the beautiful sunset under the bright full moon. We pass the local prison with its open doors - inside it looks like an oasis with palm trees and some little gardens for vegetables.

Issaka tells us, that the high walls are recently built and finished with barb wire, because the imprisoned easily went in and out. We are making jokes about the guards and the detainees ging out together, drinking dolo, listening to good music, swapping uniforms and playing hide and seek.

The elder teacher - Issaka’s friend -, is named  Somda and obviously very pleased to see him.

We sit, drink & talk. Somda speaks fluent German aswel and points out that he is very busy at the moment working on his pupils grades for the end of the school’s season. The school holidays are lasting from July until the beginning of october because of the rain season. None is able go to school in this season because of the swampy streets. He makes the impression of an old, wise man - the sort of type that reminds us of a certain character in the Star Wars movies.

Schneider shows Somda some copies of the Lobi-CD booklets and asks him some questions about the musicians Hien Bihoulèté, Palé Tioionté & Kambiré Tiaporté. It is very dark and it takes a while for Somda to recognize the names, but he knows them…or better, knew them. The blind balafonist Bihoulèté has died in 2008, he tells us, and the other two have passed even before him. We are disappointed and our journey seems to take a turn for the sad. While the three of us discuss the current situation Somda makes a call and a couple of minutes later four men arrive and take seats at our table: One of them is Roland, a handsome young man wearing a traditional suit & mirrored glasses who speaks very good english and Martin, who actually turns out to be Kambiré Tiaporté’s son. We are very excited and Schneider, Martin & Somda start talking about the 2 worldwide only available Lobi-CDs.

Martin inspects the booklets and he seems to see them the first time in his life.

During our conversation it turns out that none at the table knew about the recordings that were made in 1991 & 1998 for the two releases on OCORA / Radio France, probably because they were made in party-situations with a lot of dolo, a self-brewed beer that reminds us a bit of apple-wine from the Frankfurt area.

And of course none of the families ever received any money for sales or any copyrights. That fact doesn’t seem to matter for Martin or Somda, they just wonder and seem to be happy about the booklet-copies.

We communicate a lot and Somda’s answer to Schneider’s careful question regarding the possibility of a cooperation of the two very different musical cultures is:

Here, it goes like this: a balafonist starts playing and communicating with his instrument in some yard or cabaret. By doing that, he is calling other musicians that can be far far away at some other location but recognize that something is going to happen. He calls Tam Tam players (a drum with two heads which is played while lying horizontal on the ground)and also twin balafon-players.

At arrival they start playing an intro together before the actual song starts.’

Schneider points out that he has the feeling to have been called 10-12 years ago when he listened to the Lobi-CD the first time under the headphones at a record store in Berlin. There’s no reaction from anyone after this statement.

We eat grilled fish with rice and drink Brakina. A heavy motorbike speeds along and Somda says that it probably is a successful gold digger who spent his money on a fancy motorbike and got crazy in his head. Many of them spend their money on SUVs & bikes, get insane and drive themselves to death with those too fast vehicles.

The Lobi were traditionally not interested in the gold of the region and even after accidentally finding some, it was not appropriate to keep it. But nowadays people need the money to feed their families.

We make an appointment with Martin Tiaporté for the next day to meet him at some house, where he’s going to play some music on his balafon for us and to answer some more questions.

13 - 06 - 2014

For breakfast we have cafe au lait and extremely tasty omelette that Aisha, manager and cook in the Auberge Donsamby made with the free range eggs from the chicken in the yard, onions, tomatoes and red & green peppers. Together wit Issaka we drive in the borrowed 190 D and roller to the rendezvous point. It's a yard with some cement&mud buildings and an very old tree in the middle. Three Balafons and a TamTam are already prepared. We are greeted by Martin, Roland and some women, children and men and take place on some kind of sun-deck.

A callebasse is served with water wherein some flour has been dissolved. The callebasse is passed from person to person, every time it's turned a little bit so that everybody gets a new section of the brim.

Now again we officially say hello to everybody with a handshake.

Two musicians start the „conversations“ with their balafons and the tam tam.

The balafon player is an old, blind man we greeted earlier.

Then Martin sits down at a Balafon and they start after a short intro. A  breakbeat – thunderstorm with two Balafons TamTam and co-percussion comes over us. The sound is quite close to the CDs we heard a 1000 times and we are blown away. A woman named Colette starts dancing in typical Lobi Style and teh children join in. Together with the music it sums up to a pretty high energery level, so we empty our calebasses hastily to somehow have the chance to follow the events.

It's 10:15 am and Schneider tears up.

After the first 15 min track thees a short break and and we lie in each others arms.

With the copied covers and liner notes of the CDs Schneider starts asking Martin and Roland questions about the different songs and they answer and explain him the song they just played. During the morning we will hear all songs from the CDs in different versions and some even more then once from different musicians. Then it turns out that the Solo-Balafon Martin is playing on is the one of his father Kambirè Tiaportè and the same as on the CD cover: We realise that all our expectations are surplused this very moment.

Even the TamTam is the same. The copies of the covers and liner notes are passed around and people react surprised, touched and happy. The spirit of Kambirè Tiaportè is present and we are introduced to one of his wives. She is a very beautiful lady and a picture of her late husband in tracksuit and cool sunglasses at his instrument is presented to us.

Then newer versions of the songs we know are played to us. The Lobi music ist not fixed and changes with every played version. Notes and harmonies stay the same as composed, but intonation and rhythmical frame vary constantly Soon everybody is dancing: It's a tight stomp with grooy shoulders, precise arm movements and jazzy hands. And the whole neighborhood seems to turn up and join the party.

The musicians change instruments and we learn the difference between solo- and twin Balafons.

The twins are tuned differently: they add up to each other. One is the  rhythm balafon, the other the lead instrument, similar as the classic rock band set up with rhythm and lead guitar.

The Tam Tam player works the wooden body and the skin on one side with two sticks and a hand while he dulls the resonating skin on the other side with his foot. Using his hand on the other side he can also dull the sound or build in rhythmical breaks. He is supported by the Accompagner on the other side of the TamTam, who either doubles or breaks some of the hard triolic beats on the wooden body of the drum.

Roland is not from Gaoua and works as a teacher in a village 18 km away. Usually he plays his own compositions on a e-guitar but today he plays them on the Balafon.

His style is a little bit more pop – as we might describe it in our music – a little less scrambled, but super interesting with its minimally varied loops. The right hand beats the melody while the left does the bass-lines.

In the meantime app. 50 people showed up and the party is in full flow.

We hear that everybody is totally surprised and hardly understandable that three guys like us come from Berlin to a village like this because they are interested in the music from exactly this yard or neighborhood.

After a short recess the instruments are moved to a shadier spot

and as a special occasion  they play the tune Gopir which is only played when the eldest man of the family dies. By coincidence this is the song we chose for the start page of this blog.

During the long version of Gopir a framed old black&white photo is shown around showing old Tiaportè as a young man in the french army.

Everybody drinks millet beer and smokes as hard as one can and dances around the instruments, holding up the framed photo. A very touching moment.

The children pose for Arved and quickly run around to see their picture on the display.

After more then 6 hours the party slows down. We say our goodbyes and walk with Somda, Martin, Roland, TamTam player Christian, the Balafonist and Accompagner Aime and some others a few meters further to a little snack bar and eat rice with fish sauce and beef soup.

Roland and Schneider discuss the differences between traditional Lobi- and his music.

We speak about the about the fact that one learns the most by traveling and opening up to new impressions and meeting people. This is the most important aspect to forming a better world that learns from old mistakes. Spontaneously the idea comes up to compose a song together and maybe record it in the nearby radio studio. A title is easily found: Learning by Travelling / Kparr Dirè (in Lobi) Lernen durch Reisen.

In the evening we watch football at the auberge and crash into our beds.

14 - 06 - 2014

We are quite exhausted from last days impressions. To have reached the spiritual goal of our journey so quickly leaves us sometimes out of breath and overwhelmed.

Issaka has met many friends here in Gaoua. Though he hasn't been here for five years and doesn't speak the local dialects he left social relations so strong that he can't help himself from all the invitations.

Martin and his older and younger brother pick us up on their motor bikes and we drive down the dirt track towards Batiè. We turn left and follow a small trail through the grassland passing farms and huge old baobab trees.

We reach a Lobi settlement: cubicle mud huts on two sides of the yard around a beautiful old Sheahbutternut tree. Some of the huts are without doors and windows, and you can only get in via the roof with a trunk-ladder, like in old times, but most have doors.

In each hut lives a mother with her children. We ask where the men live and it is answered: „They sit under the tree and drink.“

And in one hut there are the fetishes, but it is not shown to us.

The roofs are used to darr the brew millet. And there is the obligatory mud oven with the five pottered caskets.

Under the tree are two Balafons, in front of one is an old man in rags, the younger brother of the family eldest, and on the other one is well groomed young man in an elegant polo shirt.

The balafons look very, very old. The calebasses have been frequently repaired wood in the upper frame is worn thin from the repeated new binding of the lining.

They play on. Here they are accompanied by two Boros, callebass drums with goat skin. The Tam Tam from yesterday is Gaoua-Style, but now we're in the country.

The music with its turns and loops sounds a lot like the music we know from the Cds. In the meantime we – especially Schneider – have developed an ear for the generational leap the Lobi music made since the two CDs.

An exhausted young man arrives by bike with a 30 liter canister with Dolo he fetched nearby. Somda donates a litre of L'Eau Du Feau, the spirit made from millet beer. After making sure the no one is going blind spontaneously we try it and it's really good: like mild Westphalian double distilled rye.

We sit on a bench under the tree, drinkind Dolo, listening to music that has been passed from father to son for thousands of years, and look into a landscape that is quite exactly like it was 5000 years ago (when you substract the motorbikes, the bicycle and two pieces of sheet metall (= chicken den).

This family is completely self sufficient, clothing, salt and some metall things aside.

After the old man Martin takes over the Balafon. He rocks and everybody starts dancing.

Then Schneider has to prove himself on the Balafon, but it doesn't really work out the second Balafonplayer and the Boro drummer can't really grasp his Berlin-Style, and they collapse into laughter every time he plays something that sound ridiculous for their ears.

Then Julian has to take the sticks and he just repeats the three note steps the other Balafonist lays out for him. This works somehow a little better. Finally back to music school.

There is a village clown, he can flop out his lips like a fish, blew up his cheeks and roll back his eyes to complete whiteness. He has his our of fame with Arved and the big camera. Especially the cameras with the wide displays are the big sensation with the kids and their moms. They take turns with Schneiders big sunglasses and everybody is freaking out.

After Martin‘s Set is finished, Schneider goes for it again and this time it works out marveously:

He owns the Jerry-Lee-Lewis like stick-cratcher over all the lames and everybody is laughing and screaming. A big success.

The talks about the adequate expression  of our gratitude for the huge hospitality and the hard work done take longer. There is no pressure or anything uncomfortable towards us but there is obviously also nothing like a clear price. Some know what we gave to Martin yesterday out of sheer overwhelming gratitude and we don't wanna bring him into a tricky situation, when others suspect him of creaming of the money we have and keeping it from them. Careful we seem to have reached a good middle way, but it keeps being an important topic for us.

The unbelievable final set is played by the family eldest in the „old style“, but with a fire and a virility that you wouldn't in this old thin man.

We say goodbye and get on the bikes.

At the Auberge we keep on discussing what the best way is to continue, what we want and what we observe. Somda had said that in earlier times a guest was given waht he needed and wanted no returns asked, but in todays time finances command also this world and it gets more difficult.

We don't want to bring him or Martin into a difficult spot.

Our presence here and our curiosity change the social structure. We realize we have to go the next step and get out of situations of presentation and recording. For tomorrow there is a next concert programmed for us (with dance). This time we want to try just to enjoy it and leave the cameras and the recording equipment at home.

15 - 06 - 2014

During the night Cotes D'Ivoire played and won. We were already in bed, but you could here the shouting from the surrounding villages.

We sit down with the computers and our journals. We are seriously behind with our blog: on the one hand because we were constantly overpowered by new impressions and changing situations, on the other hand we simply lacked internet. There is supposedly an internet cafe close to the market in Gaoua centre that might work, we have to try it out later.

We take a short stroll over the sunday market where villagers sell some of their products: pretty, spare pottery, woven baskets, self made soap, raw tobacco.

We take Issaka to the bus station and head on to Martin's. He takes us to the cabaret next door. Again we see the typical large yard with shady trees and the clay ovens to brew the dolo. A real Biergarten. For the first time we see how the fermentation process is initiated: the women takes the some of the mashed millet, chews it and gives it back into the casket.

There are already about 40 people sitting under the shady trees. We greet everyone with shake hands.

First the musicians get the dagara (the twin balafons).

The seem much more raw than all the balafons we've seen before. They both have about 14 lames,but they seem longer, rougher built, and the low key lames with a lenght of about 80cm. It is obviously a tough thing to play them. We're told that just the strong men are meant to play the dagara.

The 5th and the 10th key are rarely played – just for special occasions – because they sound „grâve“. Especially today these keys won't sound because two elder men that died these days.

Roland and an other balafon player start beating the keys. The people start dancing and we join in.

It was a good decision not to show up with all our filming gear – though some asked us to take out the cameras. We can take some photos and clips with our smartphones though.

The dancers from the local dancing group show up. They are dressed on blue typical costumes and dance excellently. 

Of course we woke the interest of the locals with us showing up, and of course money plays a certain role. We are not show at what point we are here with all the parties and sessions that are set up for us. We want to talk to Martin, Roland and Somda after the show, to explain our possibilities, plans and ideas.

We leave the cabaret and have lunch at the Obama Bar across the street. A world cup football game is running, and we talk to Martin,  Roland and Somda about our plans, and tell them that Schneider would love to work with Martin and Roland. It is a very open and clear talk we have about what could be and what could happen in our Bala-project. If a songs are made we would declare them at the GEMA and the burkinabe equivalent. Because with what has been recorded by Radio France has never gone back to the musicians. No one knew that these recordings were published nor has anyone seen money for it.

On Tuesday Martin will take us to the graves of his father Tiaporté and to the ones of Tioionté and Bihoulétè. On Wednesday and Thursday we'll start the music sessions: „Learning by Traveling – Kparr Dirè“. The first lines of the song are already written and have been shared.

16 - 06 - 2014

Today we stay at the Auberge to write the blog and to digest the deep impressions of the last couple of days. Writing helps to defragment our minds.

Aisha & the 2 young women who could be her sisters or cousins, are doing their daily work as well and laugh the whole day in high volume indeed.

We are not sure what they are laughing about but it might be the case that we are one of the reasons and we like that idea !

The ever present humor of the people here is very refreshing and viral.

It seems that anything can be the trigger for amusement or loud & extensive laughter. The 2 young women sing traditional working chants during their work and Schneider would like to record them with his field recorder but feels kind of shy and doesn‘t want to disturb this scene.

Aisha‘s daughter Audrey entertains herself & us by posing with all of our hats & shades.

In the evening we try to upload this blog at the only internet cafe in Gaoua but it doesn‘t work for some reason. A working connection seems to be very rare. We never felt more disconnected from the internet than here.

17 - 06 - 2014

Arved stays at the Auberge to get better.

Martin picks us up and we drive in the Benz to the filling station. Full tank, new brake-fluid and a litre motor- oil: app. 50,- € an good monthly wage here. That's why nobody drives cars here.

We stop at Martins place, greet the family and carry on to a cabaret where we meet the rest. It's just past nine and we already have a calebasse with Dolo in our hands. Here are four 5-casket mud ovens a really big brewery. Senior citizens, couples and youngsters come by, drink a bowl of Dolo and carry on. Slowly we realize how much of the here existing infrastructure is centered around the constant surplus of Dolo.

Martin younger „brothers“ (cousins) Coucou and Justin join us. Justin speaks english and will help us translating today.

We drive down the road to Banfora. We pass three camel riders. Really big grey camels. The riders in grey caftans, with grey turbans and old faces with mean eyes.They muster the passing car disinterested, staring from another world.

Justin tells us these men ride down the whole way from the Sahel and build camp outside the city.

Then they kill their camels and sell the parts for a very high price, because the camel is very rare here and is believed to have strong medical and magical powers: Endurance, strength, intelligence, fertility. Men like these are called „shamans“ here. They probably get paid in gold, digged up here, and then travel back north.

They tell us three years ago shamans have supposedly robbed and murdered a boy near Tonkar, close to Gaoua, to do a special kind of magic with his head. The police didn't do much and there was a little uprising.

We leave the main street and go south on a dust track, Schneider drives the 190 D masterfully over the difficult terrain.

We reach a first little village on a hill. This area is once a year flooded from the river Poni.

It's a typical Lobi settlement. The big tree in the middle, the round storage huts and the windowless mud huts with the trunk ladders.

We are greeted very friendly. One of the elder men gets out a Balafon and plays for us. It is very similar to the one of Martins father, even with the little statue under the main bass-lame.

Coucou comes from this village and a famous Balafonist used to live here, but none we know from the recordings. His tomb is in the middle of the yard and is presently used to dry earthenware.

In the head-plate of the tomb is a big Balafon Lame set upright in the cement. Also a bottle of Brakina (upside down so it flows in the mouth of the deceased) and also a pot and a plate.

After a round Eau du Feu we carry on and drive over even worse tracks through the land of the Lobis. The nature is marvelous: lush green colors, huge fat trees, some carved out by lightning and fire, big enough to place 5/6 adult men in it.

We pass motorbikes, pick-up-trikes and other vehicles. Sometimes we see old, mythical looking men in rags collecting plants and seeds. Coucou and Justin inform us in high volume about the interesting facts of their home country and after any anecdote the ask: „Are you happy?“ „We are happy!“ And yes, we are really happy, we ascertain them every time.

After an endless stony red mud track – the Benz sometimes touches ground with the bottom plate and red dust clouds the cabin – we arrive at a little house of friends of our friends. We are introduced to the local primary school teacher, his wife and their children and we get served the next round self distilled Eau du Feu. The primary school is a few meters away, a flat red brick building that educates all children of the surrounding settlements.

We get back in the car take the teacher and the two kids along drive along to Palè Tioiontè‘s grave.. We have to leave the car near a field and walk a bush trail to the next little village. Dolo-oven, different huts on different levels.

In the centre lies an ancient looking Tam Tam. We learn later that this is a sign that a great man once lived here. Again we are greeted, shy, but very warm. Martin explains very carefully and thoughtfully with the copies of the booklets why the white men are here.

The man turns out to be Tioiontè‘s son, also called Palè, and he and the women of different ages are strongly touched and greet us a second time. Eau du Feau is served and the percentage seems to increase with every new place.

In the middle of the yard is Palè Tioiontè‘s tomb, a massive polished earthen table like grave with a head piece. It is used as an everyday object for working, sitting, drinking, eating, et.al.

On the head piece is a kind of plate with the roughly engraved name, year of birth and year of death.

On one side some of the surface came of and a blue pot is visible turned upside down.

The great man is dead but he is still in the middle of his family.

Palè junior comes back with his dads Balafon. It looks like  wasn't used in a long time.

He wants to play for us, since we made the long way from Europe. And it is indescribable, magical.

His playing as well as his looks reminds very much of his late father … the accompanying humming is a little quieter and softer. The rhythms and dissolutions of the harmonies are not rationally understandable.

There is such ancient information manifest in the bodies and in unpretentious, animistic everyday-spirituality, that resonates in form of absolutely futuristic sounds in a space of its own.

It sounds as if this incredibly well sounding instrument isn't played beside a tree open air, but as if it's played in a room perfectly measured to its frequencies.

This peoples extremely hard life in the last corner of Lobi Country and the here belonging music on the absolutely highest level couldn't be anymore extreme.

Energy – life takes care of itself – probably is this ever present music a big energy source, that has been refined and increased over thousands of years.

Just like the Dolo-Kitchen and the % of the Eau du Feu.

The second song Palè plays is Déjé, which is in two versions of his father on the first CD. After a 3rd Schneider‘s field recorder fails though it still had 2-3 bars of battery life left. Somethings are obviously not meant for documentation and eternity, but has to stay in the moment. When he had played three pieces we thank him – deeply moved – for the music and that we could visit Tioiontè‘s grave, the man who impressed us so much in far Berlin. Justin and Martin translate and only Martin can speak with them directly, because they speak a especially rare Lobi dialect and no french.

They let us know that they, the living, are very happy about our visit and our respect and that this is most important. Tioiontè is dead and not here anymore.

On the way back to the car we are led to a field where an old women sits leaning on a tree and smiles. It's Tioiontè‘s widow. Though her old age she is somehow very young and radiates warmth.

After the greetings and a small talk we drive back the winding trail and meet coincidentally the colorful dressed sound engineer of Radio Gaoua on his motorbike. We stop at the teachers place and get lunch: mashed corn and a tasty, slimy herbal sauce. And the next round of Eau du Feu:

,Are you happy ? We are very happy ! The most important thing is that you are happy and we are happy !!!’

Everybody is clapping and snipping each other hands. We are under the impression that our trip together is something special also for our Lobi-friends. And that is fantastic!

We drive the Rally-Course down to Gaoua and visit three roadside inns within 300 meters.

Coucou is demanding Dolo and Schneider shows Martin his little monotron synthesizer and how to modulate and filter it. Martin spontaneously plays some well known tunes on the little sliding keyboard and the others has to guess the song. He is visibly fascinated by this instrument and plays it really well. Finally he plays a song everybody knows: „Maria Ma Coco Maria Ma, Maria Ma Coco Maria Ma - Otekiou Manbe". We join in and sing along loudly while driving to the next inn.

It's a meeting point for the surrounding villages on the road to Batiè, a little like a rural Rocker Bar. Again we meet some of our friends relatives. We try well barbecued pork belly with an intense chili-spiced salt. Suddenly there is a loud dispute, we are not sure how to react, we haven't witnessed here that kind of quarrel yet. Justin explains that there is a conflict with the eldest man from the village where Bihoulétè is buried, he doesn't want us there. But conflict is solved and

!!! Maria Ma Coco Maria Ma, Maria Ma Coco Maria Ma - Otekiou Manbe !!!"

The path is reaching new heights in difficulties the passengers sometimes has to walk to prevent the Benz of being stuck on top of a small mud peak. We drive through beautiful hills further up and we can view far in all directions. In the distance we see the hills of Cotes D'Ivoires and on the left we can see Ghana in 18 km distance. On top of the mountain we reach an assembly of little mud-hut compounds, we pass a water pump where children play and stop short und the highest village.

We don't see anybody between the half-collapsed buildings. From the distance a woman comes up the steep hillside balancing a 3-4 m long tree trunk on her head. She vanishes without a word between the buildings. An old man comes around a building and sits down with us on trunks. Suddenly everybody is very quiet when another man appears as well as the sister of Bihoulétè.

Martin explains again withe the booklet copies why we are here. They greet us again and invite us to take pictures.  The landscape is truly fantastic and we have fantasies of little ski-lifts on the slopes.

Hien Bihoulétè has died in Gaoua and Martin was the first to play Balafon immediately after his death, before his body was brought to this place build by Hien Bihoulétè‘s father a long time ago.

His earth-tomb is on the side of the village, branches and fresh green laid on top. We sit and stand around for a while put coins into the tomb-fetish and Schneider leaves his guitar pick there. We take pictures and think of this great musician before we walk back.

Then we are asked to sit on a bank again. The head of the family wants to settle the quarrel at the roadside inn by inviting us to 0,33 l L'Eau du Feau. He has to buy it himself from one of the women around.

Now more and more children are coming from the houses. Again we haven't got enough gifts for everyone. But what gifts can you give to children in rags, with swollen bellies from malnutrition ?

Some have rays-like scars carved around the belly buttons. Children that have obviously not enough to eat, not enough possibilities for medical treatment and just a small chance for education.

It's great to see how happy they are when we give them little packs of crayons, but on the other we could cry, because we don't give them anything else.

On a roofed terrace Coucou finds a daughter of Bihoulétè. She is maybe twelve and has a broken leg. It's stabilized with sticks and shreds of clothing and kept still between two big bricks left and right. She listens to the radio.

We say goodbye to Bihoulétè‘s family and the kids and hubble back to the road side inn. We get some of the grilled pork-belly and a bowl of Dolo each. The Dolo in the afternoon tastes sourer and more alcoholic then the Dolo in the morning.

We stop by a initiation festival. Set back a little from the road is big lawn. Maybe 200 people has gathered, spread in loose groups. On first view it looks just like a community festival. Old and young mixed together, Dolo bars, sliced oil barrels for grilling and a whole sheep is hacked into pieces for barbecue. There is nothing mysterious going on that one would associate with „initiation“.

We meet Somnda and are very happy to see him. In the middle of the lawn is the band two Balafons accompanied wit two Boros. Many old women and children come toward us and we have to dance. Never before so many people laughed about us.

The party is just beginning and Coucou and Justin tell us we have to leave soon because if we stay we will stay the whole night. The party will last for several days.

Martin introduces us to his aunt, Tiaportè's sister, she knows already everything about our mission..

In the car Justin tries to explain how the initiation works, but on the other hand he doesn't want to explain it. He wants to tell the truth, but says, that it is not the truth. In any case initiation is highly important and really complicated.

They insist on coming with us to the Auberge to check how Arved is doing. Arved is much better and Martin and Schneider have a little session on the Korg monotron. Big fun.

18 - 06 - 2014

Arved put the blog into a new structure and finaly – after three hours – the update works.

Schneider and Martin have a date to work on the song, but Martin is not well today.

Instead we check out the only shop for Lobisculptures we could find. The scultures of the Lobi are well known for their expressiveness. After studying the highly knowlegeable Blog TribalArtforum of Wolfgang Janicken we are  not satified  with the works on offer, many unfinished pieces and more expensive then in Berlin.

We want to celebrate the successfull upload and visit the „best“ restaurant in town. It is good, but not as good as Ayshas homecooking.

19 - 06 - 2014

Schneider, Martin, Christian on the TamTam, Aime Roland and two musicians more work on „Kparr Dirè“. Schneider can plug his Korg monotron into half a Sharp HiFi System and it sounds splendid.

20 - 06 - 2014

Despite a litte floppiness Schneider is working today with Martin, Christian on 2nd balafon, Aime and a young accompagner on the song ' Kparr Dirè '.

Colette and Schneider are singing and the recording works out very well.

At lunch time we are discussing publishing- & licensing rights with Martin & Roland and how the split between all the musicians could be.

Arved & Julian are driving to the mayor's office together with Martin to discuss a draft for a contract but the responsible official is already in leisure time.

Later we meet him together with the police chief and another important official in a cafe.

He is extremely nice and helpful.

With the help of Roland we are discussing a little on the subject.

Committed rights seem like a contradiction in a cluture where music particularly is only transported from human to human but they are important from the moment any money can be earned.

We make an appointment for the next morning at 9:00 am at the Hotel D'Administration.

Then Martin gets a call: Christian's father has just died. We are shocked. An hour after we had finished recording with Christian, his father died in the hospital.

We take Martin to Cie who is also a very well known balafonist in Gaoua.

For the first time we are asked into one of  the huts, almost pitch dark, Italy - Costa Rica runs on a tiny TV. Cie is super nice and very friendly.

A great tam tam hangs on one wall almost in darkness next to a Lobi slingshot, which is used to hunt birds and small animals. It's handle is elaborately carved.

We ask whether we are allowed to see his balafons.

We are led into a side room. A tiny window gives a little diffuse light..

Two twin balafons hang at one wall and a big funeral balafon on the other.

There is a shrine below:  Maybe 60 cm high, made of clay and with chicken feathers on it.

We can smell fresh chicken blood in the moist heat. Infront of the shrine, there's a balafon chime dug vertically into the ground.

We take Martin to the house of Christian's father. It is not far from Martin's, on a square-like intersection of two paths. Maybe 50 people are sitting on benches spread across the square. The widow is sitting alone on a bench in front of the house and laments. A bed frame is carried out of the house and inside the body is getting washed and prepared.

Christian is on the way to organise something.

We discuss with Martin that we come back later and set off.

Schneider is sick, but nevertheless comes later with us to the funeral. In the maze of dark paths we find the place again, as we listen from the car window and hear  tam tam and balafon in the distance.

Now there's around 150 people present across the square. Dolo is served, the atmosphere is warm, supportive, sad but also happy.

The square is lit by two strong neon lights. In the middle there is the funeral balafon, Christian at tam tam and a metal tone bar played in straight 16th notes which is new for us.

It accompanies every funeral music until the body is buried.

Women dance around the band. Many have fresh branches or fly flaps in their hands.

At the house there's a bed frame with mattress on which the body of Christian's father is layed.

Elderly women are sitting around it: Widows, sisters & relatives.

Some of them sing to the body once in a while.

There's a pot with fresh herbs placed next to the head and near the feet we see a clay bowl full of cauris shells and coins.

We walk to the bed frame aswell and throw a coin each into the vessel with the cauris shells.

We welcome Christian. He is bathed in sweat and we realize that he is sad.

He stands alone for a while.

He has a sewn-together antelope bantling reassigned as a bag full of coins and cauris shells.

Finally he passes the band, throws some coins and cauris down to them aswell as into the vessel next to the deathbed.

Justin explains that the death is recognized & accepted by throwing the coins.

Arved and Julian drive Christian in the Benz to Martin's house to get the twin balafones.

When they come back the first people have fallen asleep, but there's new guests coming all the time.

The celebration will go on all night and for the next day at 3 pm we are invited to the big funeral in the circle of old mango trees.

21 - 06 - 2014

At 9 am we have the appointment with Monsieur Traore, the cultural representative for the whole of South West Burkina Faso. Martin, Coucou and Roland are coming with us.

Schneider should actually stay in bed, but also comes with us anyway.

It is very cool in the office of M. Traore.

Schneider has already mixed and mastered yesterday's recording.

This meeting now is about two main issues:

1. How can Martin get proceeds from the sales of his father's music?

2. The signing of a contract that regulates copyright and exploitation of the song "Kparr Dirè - Learning by Travelling ".

With his lack of French Julian has created a contract whose linguistic blossoms still have to be discussed and corrected.

First there is the question whether Martin will empower Schneider to pursue his father's rights in his (Martin's) interest, but the present representative of the BPSB (burkinabe correspondence to GEMA / BMI / SACEM / PRS etc.) recommends a registration of title at the BPSB, which cooperates with the French SACEM (fr. correspondence GEMA). The cultural representative agrees.

But first Martin has to be become a member: 7500, - FCFA membership fee, two passport photos (not cheap here neither) and he has to go to Bobo to register. But probably it is the best solution.

Also " Kparr Dirè " can then be registered via the BPSB. Therefor a CD with the song has to be submitted that we will burn afterwards.

The contract gets a little corrected and made understandable, printed, signed by all and wrapped solemnly in yellow tissue paper.

Then we invite Monsieur Traore and the representative of the BPSB into our auberge for a drink. Schneider plays the mix of " Kparr Dirè " and everybody likes it very much..

Monsieur Traore is happy about this cultural cooperation and the start of the collective project.

We are too.

Arved and Julian go to the funeral at 4 pm. Schneider is too ill and stays in bed.

An old burial ground is located near Martin's house.

Seven large, ancient mango trees form a circle. Also a neighbor of Christian died last night so there are two funerals to celebrate now.

The association with the word "funeral" has little to do with what happens here: About 500 people have gathered in the shade of the mango trees. Balafon and tam tam are located in the center of the circle. There is a loose separation between men and women. Women are dressed particularly colorful and grand, most with scarfs around their heads. Many men also dressed smartly.

We welcome Martin and Christian. Christian clearly is more worn out then last night.

He still carries the antelope bantling and offers us his bowl of Dolo.

Again and again guests come to him, give him a 100 FCFA coin and talk with him briefly. Some older women really talk with him for long. The coins are being collected in the antelope bantling.

Cie, the balafonist we met yesterday is also there and has just finished playing.

He also wears an animal bantling in which he is putting the coins and cowries that are thrown to the balafonist.

Then there comes a powerful moment:

Martin gets up and walks towards the balafon which is left in the middle of the circle of the trees and the 500 people.

He sits down as if he was all alone and begins to communicate quietly with the balafon.

When he repeats a little cadenza for a few times, the tam tam player gets up and sits down next to him.

A man comes up to them and puts an empty clay bowl and a big bag with cowries beside them.

He takes a handful of cowries from the bag and throws it into the bowl.

Many of the guests are doing the same.

A rhythm grows between balafon and tam tam. An accompagner comes in and takes over the metal sound bar for the funeral 16th.

Suddenly life is coming into the community.

In large groups, they flock to the dance floor around the band.

Many men gather around the band, sing and throw coins and cowries.

Around them are mainly women who dance great.

We can not really describe it:

The feet stomp very, very energetic quarters to the ground and shoulders and chest go in-out-in-out in fast 16th on top of the rhythm of the feet. A polyrhythmic dance to polyrhythmic music.

The tremor and shaking happens maybe for 10-30 seconds on super high energy level, then comes a final pose, half ballet, half triumphal fist, different from dancer to dancer.

Sometimes all of this happens in front of each other in pairs and then at the end it leads to a big hug: Clearly battle and reconciliation, expression of the warrior identity of the Lobi.

22 - 06 - 2014

We find the cause of the rattling hood: The shock absorber of the right front wheel hits the hood. We stop at the next garage, Issaka helps us and we take a mechanic to the garage of the hospital.

The courtyard of the hospital is a dream for photographers and filmmakers: a large pile of old, rusty hospital beds, a dentist's chair from the 50s, rusty gas pumps, an old Citroen ambulance, the inner full of rotten, bloody bandages and cobwebs.

After 5 minutes, another mechanic comes with the appropriate replacement part. The part is being replaced professionally. Not more than 15 minutes later all is mended: costs 30, - €.

During the night someone died: A "grand frere" (presumably an older cousin) of Martin and Coucou in Gimbongil. They have to go there and we plan to meet later.

Although Schneider is still sick, we drive the 40 km to the ruins of Loropeni:

Loropeni is an historic compound of large stone ruins of unexplained origin, probably 11th century.

The road is very bumpy and we hope our car would make it - 40 kilometers moguls can be very long.

Behind the town of Loropeni the driveway leads us to the ruins. Since 2009, Loropeni is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1225

Here the road is perfect, three beautiful new buildings with air conditioning, a cashier house, but everything is closed.  Well. But then: A very, very elegant lady approaches us on a scooter. She is the cashier and guide of Loropeni.

The ruins are amazing. Like an Indiana Jones adventure. Located in the middle of the forest with 5-meter walls the compound draws a rectangle of about 50 by 50 meters. There are only two small entrances. On the ground the walls are about 1.50 wide and taper upwards. They are so well preserved because they are assembled with a mortar made of shea nut and honey. This stuff is tough and waterproof. Trees grow on the walls.

It was probably one of the first three Lobi tribes, who built that fortress - at that time there were many enemy tribes around and… lions. Excavations traces have been found that indicate trade of salt, gold and iron.

Our elegant guide tell us about the history of Loropeni and the metallurgy of these times. Schneider shows her his synthesizer.

We drive back. The moguls do not good to Schneider’s stomach. We postpone our farewell party for tomorrow and watch football.

23 - 06 - 2014

We burn the last CDs and have to print the cover of the Radio France CDs, so Martin in can register their claims with the BPSB in Bobo. We get the bus tickets for our trip to Bobo tomorrow.

Schneider gets better, but not fully and also Arved and Julian are tired after these full days.

Arved and Julian visit the Museum of Gaoua. It is a former French colonial building. We learn important facts about living in Gaoua. E.g. in Lobi society women are responsible for the funds (formerly gold), the making of Dolo, water supply, cooking and they are the first to cultivate the field (for they stand for fertility).

Men are responsible for hunting, ironware, weapon production, music and spiritual means.

In the court yard we see a traditional Lobi house like the ones we have seen in the villages. After entering you have on the left the room for goats and sheep, second room on the left is for the first wife and their children, in the middle of the house the granary with two millstones. First room on the right: chickens, second room on the right: second wife and their children. The man usually sleeps in a small room on the roof.

In the museum we see the balafon of  Nani Palé, one of the most famous balafonists. He died in 1982 and is still revered. There exists only few recording of him on a BBC-compilation, on which he sings quite a lot. In his time he has given concerts in Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.

Yesterday the government sent up cloud seeding air planes to make rain for this year has been very dry and the harvest is threatened.

And now actually a heavy thunderstorm comes up. Black plastic bags fly like flocks of birds high in the air.

In the afternoon we meet Martin and Somda to say goodbye. We think that it would be good to go together with Martin to the MUSIC AUTHORITIES in Bobo. We buy a bus ticket for him.

Arved and Somda talk about the myth of the origin of the balafon (LINK).

But Somda says that there is not the one "true" myth here (the one in the booklet he had not heard), but there are a lot of stories that all have one thing in common: the musical dialogue with the spirits. He tells another story:

A young man comes to the river. He wants to cross the river, but capsizes and nearly drowns. The river goddess Manihouta finds him so beautiful that she wants to keep him for herself. She promises him gold and riches if he’d stay with her until the end of time. People are not good, she said, they’d let you down.

The young man choses to live with mortal mankind. The river goddess answers: You chose the people – you’ll never see the spirits again.

With Somda and Martin we go to the grave of Nani Palé. It is just a few meters from our auberge beside the road to Batié. Martin can still remember how Nani Palé died while playing in the courtyard of Martin's father - his head fell on his balafon. Nani Palé was also a "grand frere" of Martin's father.

As we stand at the grave, a few men join us. One of them carries a small transistor radio with SD card slot, on which he plays recordings of Nani Palé. He says that Palé is the grandmaster of Lobi music.

In the evening Reno passes by and fetches his car. He works at PLAN Burkina-Faso and fights against HIV, malaria and polio. The number of people infected with HIV has declined in recent years from double-digit numbers to 2%. But especially the additional diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis reduce life expectancy after HIV infection dramatically here.

Malaria is a major problem especially for young children, because people are too poor for mosquito nets and medicines, and also polio is still a problem even though the vaccination is simple and very cheap.

We give him a most of our first aid kit stuff.

In the evening we hear something like cannon shots. First we assume that the clouds are being seeded, but it is the call to a funeral. Like this in remote settlements without telephone people hear about a death and are invited to come. All night we hear the TamTam and sometimes flutes.

24 - 06 - 2014

In the morning we pack our things after 12 nights in Gaoua. The main cigarette salesman of Burkina Sud Ouest, Erik, passes with seven beautiful promotion girls, who are currently on tour and will stay at the auberge.

We say goodbye to Aysha, Audrey and the whole extended family and go to Martin’s, say goodbye there – anyhow, we will meet him tomorrow in Bobo.

We eat lunch at the bus station and Reno passes by to say farewell, too.

The bus is not packed as usual, that is comfortable. The closer we get to Bobo, the more we are impressed by traffic and the masses of little workshops. The 12 days in the province town of Gaoua with its very few cars (supposedly about 80) have changed our senses.

We are glad to arrive at Villa Bobo. Schneider is doing better.

We sit down at our computers and cut a short video clip for the Federal Cultural Foundation and try to upload it overnight.

25 - 06 - 2014

All morning we are trying to upload the clip. Arved constantly reduces the file size, but it still does not work.

In the afternoon, Martin arrives in Bobo. We welcome him at the bus station, where a cousin picks him up with his scooter. We make an appointment for the evening at the Samanke.

At Villa Bobo we continue to work on uploading. Later we meet Wamian, Martin and his cousins at the Samanke. We watch the World Cup with a beamer, but often the power goes off and we see a sky with a huge thunderstorm storm approaching.


Arved continue with the upload while Schneider and Julian meet Martin and one of his cousins at 8:00 a.m. in front of the national culture office (National Semaine de la Culture): A huge area behind the train station with many pavilions, gardens and small shady groves. Here the “Great Week of National Culture” is celebrated every two years. Today we see many straw mats and hundreds of empty oil barrels. On the compound we find the three-storey building of the BPSB.

The building is constructed around an airy, green courtyard, in the canteen freshly baked croissants are being served - it smells delicious.

Nathalie, the executive secretary welcomes us.

We want to get the following done:

1. Martin will be a member of the BPSB to earn with his compositions money.

2. "Kparr Dirè", the song by Martin and Schneider is listed and can be used accordingly.

3. Martin declares the two albums of his father to get the rights on the recordings.

Unfortunately, the information we have received from representatives of BPSB in Gaoua were incomplete: For registration it takes more than the CD with “Kparr Dirè” you need at least three titles to register. Furthermore it takes two passport photos, a officially confirmed copy of his passport and a confirmation of a radio station that the songs of the two CDs have been played on radio in Burkina.

We split up: Martin and his cousin take passport photos, go to the police and the radio station while Schneider and Julian copy the CDs.

At 11:00 a.m. we meet again – we managed all our tasks except for the confirmation of the radio station. Martin has to do this in Gaoua, because in Bobo the CDs haven’t been played.

Nathalie starts the registration procedure.

We listen to each title which gets its own data sheet with information about instrumentation, composer, arranger, etc.

It takes its time, but the office is air-conditioned, so we don’t mind.

In the meantime Arved and Schneider have tried several places to upload the clip, but none of them worked.

Two hours later, we take the scooters to the Ran Hotel and meet Schneider and Arved.

The Ran Hotel is a 70s dream of African architecture, with decisive colors and shapes - an old elegance… You easily can imagine how e.g. Fela Kuti in fur coat with his ladies celebrated here after his concert in Bobo.

We do a little photo session with Martin and Schneider. Then Martin has to go to catch his bus – we won’t see each other for a while… But hopefully next year.

We walk through the city center, visit the market and buy the bus tickets for tomorrow.

In the evening we are back at the Samanke. After the football team of Algeria won, a slam starts on the Samanke stage.  Some hip-hop style artists sing a few songs, do some comedy and spoken word performance.

It is political stuff and really good, but still we are exhausted. Wamian takes us to a "Pain Anglais" booth we you can buy all night long very delicious toasts. Then we head back home, because in three hours we have to get up again to get the bus to Bamako.

27 - 06 - 2014

At dawn we enter the bus to Bamako.

We drive through this unreal & beautiful landscape. The deepest green, the reddest earth and in the distance rolling hills of ancient rock.

We pass the boarder with more routine this time: get out, walk, get back in, drive for 50 meters, get out again, repeat four times.

The malian customs officer is paying us more attention this time: we have to open all luggage and especially Julian’s GoPro and Arved’s Gorilla-Tripod are making him suspicious.

If it is because they look military grade or like journalist equipment, or because he is just curious, we can not say.

In Bougouni we have lunch break. Four roads are crossing here: North to Bamako (that’s where we are going), East to Sikasso and Bobo (where we came from), South to Cotes D'Ivoire and West to Guinea (Conakry) where Ebola just broke out. The Guinean boarder is just 80 km away and then 80 km more and you are in the rainforests around Kankan, where Ebola is vicious right now.

The border is supposed to be closed, but with an incubation time up to 21 days and people fleeing the Ebola-areas it is not totally unlikely that we encounter infected people in Bougouni.

We are generous with the hand desinfectant.

The density and busyness of Bamako are quickly overwhelming again. The fumes are hardly breathable after clear air in Gaoua.

We drive to Hotel Tamana where we can stay in single rooms (finally).

Later we go to the Savana, where we had the great steak with Paul Chandler, that we remembered quite often. The food is planned and made with French aspirations and really good.

But the atmosphere is a little bothering: maybe 70% of the guests are French and they act not like guests, but like owners. That's subtly present in how they talk to the waiters, or in the total separation between „white“ and „black“ tables. And also how they treat the (black) band: with astonishing casualness they demand that they play less vivid, and one guest is taking the singers microphone away from him mid-song to congratulate a birthday.

We leave and just walk a few meters to the „Le Diplomat“. This is also a Maquis but no French here.

And to our great joy the Symmetric Orchestra is playing here. Absolut fantastic music! Kora, Bass-Kora, Bass, Drums and vocals.

The crystal clear Kora-chords are pearling through the air, the singing bursts of longing and desire. And we are happy.

The band has a main singer, Zoumani Diabate, but from time to time Mandeng singers from the audience take over and sing their songs.

28 - 06 - 2014

We relax during the day.

In the evening Schneider is DJ-ing at the Coin Rouge.

Fantastic atmosphere and surreal when the club-audience in Bamako is dancing to PAN SONIC.

29 - 06 - 2014

Our flight back is leaving tonight and we have the whole day to ourselves.

We go to Le Relax to get a proper breakfast. Yesterday, the day before Ramadan, many, many cakes and delicacies were eaten here and carried out in heaps, but today it's empty and very quiet. The displays are empty and we are almost the only guests.

After coffee, shawarma and salad we go back to Hotel Tamana and we join the football audience in front of the lobby TV. The concierges and some women are there, and the french man we saw yesterday morning downing one beer after the other for breakfast. He has a lot of female friends and sometimes leaves with one of them for a while.

Another man joins us, obviously a colleague of the French man, they speak in English together. We watch the game together, with two disoriented former colonial masters that have forgotten where they are and where they live.

Schneider is sitting next to them and tries to keep his distance. He says quietly to Julian that they are a pain in the ass (in German) and shortly after that the newcomer asks Schneider in German: Where are you coming from? One seldomly meets German civilians here. Schneider blushes a little.

They turn out to be a French and a German UN Officer, that are stationed in Bamako for weeks and really don't know what they are supposed to do.

They say everything moves very slowly and that there is no real plan except to wait in a representative way for orders from above.

In the North they see the real danger of a new radical islamic state, armed with Gaddafi’s arsenals (sold to him by German and French manufacturers) and threatening the western world. The UN is present but does not interfere to avoid further escalation.

Schneider is bringing up the 40%  radical-christian creationists in the US and that might sit in perspective. But the officer had never heard of creationism.

He is not unlikable, but he seems to be in some desolate state, drinking his beers while listening to our short travel summary. Again we feel reminded of Apocalypse Now.

Sidibe Boss comes with a taxi to accompany us to the airport.

After two kilometres there is a loud bang. One of the tires of the 190 D blew up. Changing the tire takes too long and Sidibe hails down a passing pickup truck. We put our luggage and equipment on the open truck bed and hurry to the airport.

At every traffic light we check if our luggage is still there.

At the airport we learn that our flights late. We prepare to spend some hours under the open roof of the forecourt and invest our last CFAs in coffee and cigarettes.

A thunderstorm is forming.

We are effectively broke and can't take up the offer of a nice gentleman to spend the next hours in a airconditioned VIP Lounge with cold drinks and World Championship on satellite TV.

When Julian checks the information desk for updates again, he learns that the flight has not left Paris due to technical complications and that our flight will have at least a 24 hours delay.

Then two hours negotiations with Air France starts for organising and paying a hotel, to avoid that we have to stay the next 24 hours without money at the airport.

Finally Julian succeeds and we get Hotel and Taxi vouchers, this encourages others to get the same and there is a riot in the air when we leave the airport.

We take a taxi to the Olympe International Hotel and after a spare meal we fall into a nervous sleep with locked windows and super loud and extra cold air-conditioning.

30 - 06 - 2014

At breakfast Julian notices his dufflebag with laundry is missing, nothing too important in there. We go up to the deserted hotel roof, where we do an experimental photo session on the several roofed terraces. The Hotel has a impressive 60ies architecture with reed-roofed pavilions and oval swimming pools. No other guests are present, just some employees, and we feel like beeing early on the set of the Truman Show.

We have a view over all of Bamako, half finished buildings, sheet metal huts, little market squares, little vegetable patches with water tanks and solar panels, garbage dumps with birds, lots of traffic and the blue Niger in the distance. The contrast between city and hotel is strange. We wish the Bamakois will get a good portion of lucrative tourism back in the next years. Everything is prepared.

After doing emails in the lobby for hours, watching football and observing new guests from a UN conference, we go back to the airport, really hoping we get back home this time. This very intense trip has really exhausted us.

Again there is a long queue in front of the entrance where all the luggage has to be scanned. We meet two Norwegian UN officers again, we had met the previous night and who kindly offered us to stay in their camp, in case we wouldn't get a hotel.

While waiting together they tell us about the difficult situation in Mali:

Many of the elegant Malians in expensive suits waiting with us in line, are rich „human traffickers“, who are bringing refugees through the Sahara to the Mediterranean coast and then over to Italy or Spain. Those surviving the trip, and those actually getting work in Europe pay back 90 % of their income to the trafficking organisations and that this is the face of modern slavery.

The traffickers support a glorified image of life in Europe, to make it more attractive for refugees, but the reality will be horrifying for most of them.

In reverse we see a african reality badly represented in the European images of the continent.

We would never have expected that (with only very few minor exceptions) we would only meet the kindest and most helpful people on our four week trip.

In this moment the taxi driver from yesterday evening shows up and brings Julian’s dufflebag with the laundry and everything else still inside that he had left in his taxi. We thank him a lot, give him all of our last CFAs and are really touched. That would have hardly ever happened in Berlin.

We fly through Paris back to Berlin, which seems to be different compared to the Berlin before our trip. Kparr Dirè – Learning by traveling.

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<< start

[ Bamako Airport ]

[ Julian, Arved, Sidibe & Dirk ]

[ „Coin Rouge“ ]

[ Our home in Bamako ]

[ George ]

[ Marché du féticheurs ]

[ Konan Kouassi ]

[ „Studio Mali“ ]

[ „Le capitaine“ ]

[ „Point G“ ]

[ Field Recording ]

[ Ben Zabo concert ]

[ Susanne / bus to Bobo ]

[ traditional huts / „Eden“  / 190 D]

[ „Villa Bobo“ ]

[ Mais ]

[ Cheik Chow at the Samanké ]

[ Wamian, his father and family ]

[ Bobo-Dioulassou ]

[ The old town ]

[ The old mosque ]

[ Issouf Keita‘s workshop ]

[ millet drying for dolo ]

[ Boromo bus station ]

[ Issaka Yameogo ]

[ no fata morgana ]

[ Field Recording ]

[ Gaoua ]

[ „Le capitaine“ ]

[ Niger ]

[ mutton and café tuba ]

[ Genio ]

[ Martin & his mother ]

[ Kambiré Tiaporté ]

[ Tiaportés old balafon ]

[ Aime ]

[ Somda ]

[ Aisha / World Cup ]

[ the village Batie‘ ]

[ Coucou & his birth place ]

[ a school ]

[ Tioionté‘s house with the old tam tam ]

[ Tioionté‘s son Palé ]

[ Martin, Justin & Coucou ]

[ Tioionté‘s grave]

[ Tioionté‘s widow]

[ Dolo BBQ ]

[ Hien Bihoulèté‘s grave ]

[ Kambiré Tiaporté‘s grave ]

[ Da Gboro Alé‘s grave ]

[ grave with pots and balafon

chimes ]

[ funeral cemeromy for Christian‘s father ]

[ regional administration with office of cultural affairs ]

[ Monsieur Traoré ]

[ Loropeni ]

[ the grave of Pale Nene ]

[ farewell ]

[ Semaine National de la Culture ]

[ the Ran Hotel ]

[ Le Diplomat ]

[ Schneider is DJ-ing ]

[ flat tire on our way to the airport ]

[ our flight has been cancelled... ]

[ our hotel ]

[ at the airport ]

[ Auberge Donsamby ]

[ Audrey ]