Busy Road of Bamako

On my way second visit to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia, the taxi ride takes me along a road bordered with a bustle of activity. The shops are fairly small and specialized with each offering a limited range of products. I continue to be amazed at the intermingling of people on foot, on bicycles, pushing carts, riding motos (small motorcycles), cars, vans and sometimes trucks. So far, I have seen no accidents but quite a few close calls.

I have also walked this route and the high level of human activity is something I have not commonly experienced in other places of the world that I have visited. It is inspiring.

The music in the background comes from the taxi driver’s radio.

Looking for the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia, Bamako

It was difficult to find a Taxi driver who understood where the Conservatoire was and was willing to take me there. In the end, I found a willing driver but as we proceeded out of the general confines of Bamako, he became reluctant to go much further. Perhaps because the Conservatoire is elevated in an escarpment, he may have also been reluctant to gain elevation because doing so uses more fuel than driving on city streets.

In the end, with the aid of Google maps I persuaded him to get me within about a kilometer (half mile) of where I wanted to go. He wasn’t pleased when he let me out but a small tip seemed to improve his demeanor upon departure.

The walk up to the Conservatoire was refreshing in that I was away from vehicle exhausts, vehicle noise and there was a picturesque panorama of Bamako and the Niger River. Upon entering the campus of the Conservatoire, I immediately met a gentleman, Mr. Berte, who introduced me to Mr. Konate, the Directeur Generale of the Conservatoire. Mr. Konate, graciously met with me even though I had made no appointment. I explained my desire to find 3D animation designers who might be able to help me with Wings For Farmers. It was late in the day so Mr. Konate invited me to come back the next morning to see what recommendations could be made.

Fine Pitch Soldering In Bamako, Mali

My cell phone is locked to AT&T so I am unable to use it in Mali. I should have arranged the unlocking before leaving the USA but I didn’t so I asked around and was directed to man named Papa who I was told might be able to unlock it.

In the end, Papa was not able to unlock my phone and as I found out later, it is probably just as well. More on that later but while I was waiting for Papa’s attempts I walked around Les Halles du Bamako checking out various activities. The efforts of one young man impressed me in particular. He was repairing a cell phone.

I’ve done my share of soldering throughout my career so I could identify with this man’s efforts and surprisingly his success. In the States, such repair would most likely be carried out using a temperature-controlled, fine-tipped soldering iron. Not here at Les Halles. This man was using a rather crude, ultra-wide-tipped soldering iron to replace a very small electrical connector on a cell phone. If that weren’t challenge enough, his back-up soldering irons used when the electrical power fails, which it does frequently, were charcoal powered.

Watching this technician work, gives me heart for the Wings For Farmers project. If such skill is evidenced with the most basic of tools, it bodes well for what Malians will be able to do with more sophisticated tools to bring levopters to reality.

Amazing On-The-Spot Shirt Repair

As mentioned in an earlier post, while I walked through the Bamako University campus, I spotted a man with a hand-operated sewing machine on his shoulder and I approached him to repair a tear in my shirt. William repaired my shirt while I waited. As you can hear in the video, William is not his given name but when he detected my difficulty with his real name he offered me an alternative that I could get my tongue around.

William is from Ghana and as such he speaks good English and that was a welcome relief to me. Seated near William and his sewing machine were several students from the university. It appears they had congregated to practice English with William.

William told me he is also a panel beater. To us Americans, that is a repairman of car bodies. Sort of like MAACO.

Malian Singer and Audience

There was a free concert at the Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba very near to where I was at the time. I stopped in at the Palais and was treated to some great music by several different performers. This particular performer was a favorite of 6 young boys sitting in front of me. For the other performers the boys remained seated but for this singer they were on their feet and sometimes standing on their seats as well.

It was fun to watch such enthusiastic enjoyment of the song and the singer.

Jaja Calls the Sewing Machine Man

I was walking through the campus of the University of Bamako in discussion with a young man from Burkina Faso by the name of Jaja. As I walked I came upon a man carrying a hand-powered sewing machine. After several steps of separation, I remembered that the shirt I was wearing had a small tear in it so I turned around to catch up with the sewing machine man on the off-chance that he could fix my shirt before the tear got larger.

Jaja, realizing that I wanted to catch up with the sewing machine man called him but not vocally. Jaja made a sort of kissing sound that was surprisingly loud and effective in the quiet of the campus. Since hearing Jaja make this sound, I have encountered other Malians making such sounds as well instead of calling out as I would more normally have expected.

Later, I will post some video of the man using his hand-powered sewing machine.

Near to the South shore, Niger River, Bamako, Mali

There wasn’t a nicely defined shore to the Niger River. It seems this is often the case with rivers before they are “domesticated” with defining retaining walls. People were bathing in the river and in the pools of water fringing the river. I didn’t notice any boats at this time but later when I crossed a bridge that spans the Niger, I saw a few small boats.