MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600, 700, Prē, HTC Evo, Samsung 5, Pixel 3, Pixel 6 Pro. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An African River Runs Through...
Sweet Home Alabama

I was up early, but Wes was determined to be the first at the breakfast table, and I dutifully document this rare sighting. After breakfast, we break camp and get back in the boat. I start lobbying Paul to help me find a line and hook in one of the villages, so I can troll behind the Pinasse. The boat captain is dubious, we never get a line, and I miss the opportunity to fish the Niger. [Note to Self: Popeil's pocket fisherman for all future trips.]

Earlier in the tour, Wes picked up the game of Mancala, comprised of six bowls cut out of each side of a wood board, with four beans in each cup.

It is a count and capture game with many variations, and has been called the national game of Africa. Paul introduces us first to the game of "Fives" then to the more sophisticated game of "Two and Threes" and I am soundly thrashed by Paul in an exhibition match.

Wes and I decide to team up and between us, with much plotting, scheming and consultation, manage to beat Paul. He did not take the loss well. Taking advantage of his multi-lingual skills, he curses in German throughout the entire game.

The cruise ends as we pull in to Niafounke. The Land Cruisers are there, and bags and trucks meet us at a nearby hotel. The itinerary actually calls for this to be a night of camping. Paul tried to keep expectations low by calling this "hotel camping", but there was no way to prepare us for how truly grim and depressing the roach infested rooms actually were. No one wanted to stay in their room any longer than necessary. We soon congregated in the courtyard and broke into the liquor supplies. While we wiled away the afternoon, a band set up in front of us for our evening entertainment.

Paul introduces us to Bouj - TransAfrica's man-on-the-ground in Timbuktu, and our desert guide for the next three days. The importance of the Sahara guide is a topic in Marcus Villier's book Timbuktu:
"The deep knowledge of the desert is a tradition that goes back into ancient times. Ibn Battuta commented on this matter of Saharan guides 'A guide there is someone who has frequented it repeatedly and has keen intelligence. A strange thing that I saw, is that our guide was blind in one eye, and diseased in the other, but he knew the route better than anyone else.' The French explorer Rene Caillie had written in his journal in 1824 'Though without a compass, or any instrument of observation they possessed so completely the habit of noticing the most intimate things, that they never go astray, though they have no path traced out for them, and though the wind in an instant completely covers with sand and obliterates the tracks of the camels. ' ... Caravans small or large, were organized under the leadership of an experienced desert guide called a khabir. The khabir had full authority over the caravan, and could order its route and the timing of marches. He was also responsible for its well-being and liable for accidents and losses it might suffer... He could also, if he was unscrupulous, sell out the entire caravan to Tuareg raiders." - from Timbuktu by Marq De Villiers & Sheila Hirtle
Bouj is our khabir for the next three days in the desert.

Dinner was chicken and rice, which I found to be tasty, if a bit lean and tough. Others found it inedible. Everyone liked the peli-peri, and we purchased a bottle to take home.

The band was fun and loud. Electric guitar, bass guitar, casaba percussion and a chewed up drum set with cymbals that looked like they had been used to chop wood. The musicians were young - just kids really - but they played with real musicianship, earnest enthusiasm, and soon attracted an audience from around the neighborhood. I'd describe the sound as a rock and rap inspired fusion with West African sounds. One song sounded particularly familiar, but I could not quite identify it. Then it hit me. Lynyrd Syknyrd's "Simple Kind of Man". Really. No shit. Lynyrd Skynyrd. We were listening to a young Mali band playing a 1973 Southern Rock hit on the banks of the Niger River in Niafounke, Mali in 2007.

At this point of the trip, I suspected that my travel companions were getting a bit annoyed at the video camera that seems to be surgically attached to my right hand, so I thought I would give it a break and leave the camera in the room. But as I sat there in an advanced state of cultural cognitive dissonance listening to the Mali band play a tune from my college days, Mark turns, looks over at me and says "You have to record this." I run into the room and manage to get the last bit of "Simple Man" on tape.

Looking at the lyrics with a fresh eye, I can see where this song might strike a responsive chord in a struggling garage band trying to make it in a poor African fishing village.

Simple Man - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Mama told me when I was young

Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.
Take your time... don't live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you'll find love,
And don't forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple kind of man.
Be something you love and understand.
Be a simple kind of man.
Won't you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust for the rich mans gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

Boy, don't you worry... you'll find yourself.
Follow you heart and nothing else.
And you can do this if you try.
All I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

[Note to Reader: Not sure how the tape turned out, as the video camera is now inoperable from the windblown Sahara sand, but when I get the camera fixed or replaced I will update this post with the tape if it is listenable.]

UPDATE: 12/07/2008
I finally got around to it. The tape did not have enough of "Simple Man" to make it worth uploading. OTOH - I really liked this song. Wish I knew what it was and the name of the band.

I only heard them once, in the courtyard of that crappy hotel in Niafounke'. I recorded a couple of songs from my camcorder, balanced on a glass serving as tripod on our table. During a break, I asked the lead singer the name of the band and if they had any CD's. Language got in the way, but the next morning one of the guys from the band showed up with a cassette tape. This is what is written on the tape:
Abdoulaye Cisse' (Guitar)
Rec. at Niafounke' 2.01.07
prise de Son- mixage - mastering
Yoan Jaunequo
That's the best I can do for credit. I'd be interested if anyone recognizes the song or knows the name of the band.


Yeneneh Mulatu said...

This migth be an old blog nevertheless I came to this page via youtube link. you are luck person/s live tube from the local boys.

Yeneneh Mulatu said...

check this clip you can c one of the band memeber play here with one of the best in the work man. you should feel proud of. i would ave loved to be on that trip with you

mw said...

Thanks for leaving a comment. I checked out that link. It is great. Do you know the name of the band or the musicians or the song in this video?

Yeneneh Mulatu said...

check this link out you might find more info.

But I think the local hotel band where playing one of Afel Bocoum song.