Kweku's journey to the sahara

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Home coming

After many years abroad I have decided to come back to the land of my birth to put my knowledge and skills into practice ,to share with people who might want to 

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Thursday, April 26, 2007




all these people contributed to my stay in Mali to be successful they have been a family


All good things come to an end and my adventure in the sun and musical quest has come to an end
My last few days in Bamako the capital of Mali has been full of activities, I needed to conclude many things I had been doing all the recordings I had been doing for musicians had to be mastered and given to them. Also people have come to a realisation that I am going for real and wanted to make good use of me before I park my equipments
In all this my own work gets neglected so I had to go without sleep some days so that I can cope with everything.
My last recording project answered a lot of questions it was very challenging, my friend Toumani Diabate called and gave me the permission to record his band live at LeHogon so I got all my bits and wires and set off with Jara Camara as my helper, all was set by the time the band started to play, recorded about three hours of live audio of the Symmetric Orchestra was so excited but my work did not prove as fruitful as I would have expected.
So far my equipments have stood to the test but this session I think proved too challenging for my G4 apple Mac power book and my Motu sound card, pieces of audio was missing during playback I was so disappointed when I got home and realised imagine getting the opportunity to record one of the greatest and successful African groups and not having all the sounds. This has made me aware that if you are to operate professionally price cant be compromised hence I must invest in the best possible recording system Digi Design Protools in future
My last day was spent in getting around to say bye and thanks to all the friends I had made around the area I was staying I was surprised how many people I had known in the period that I had been in Mali, from shop keepers school kids petrol station attendants market women, musicians maidservants rich and poor people. I was very sad by the final hour when people turned up to wish me well also
In all I will say my trip has been very successful and feel God had prepared the place for me and guided me in everyway and I will give thanks and glory to him

Friday, February 23, 2007


May be I have been a bit naïve about some things in Mali because I thought its Islamic country certain things were not present but I was wrong. I had a taster the other day when I went out to real Mali’s going out avenue with Habib, the kids were just behaving like kids in Europe with trousers hanging down their bums and drinking, it was really nice to see that there are some classy night clubs that played Morden dance and a blend of traditional and Ivorian dance stuff called fuka fuka


The local shop owners have become use to me also sometime they find me hard to deal with yet they enjoy the time I am in their shops. I have become the local English teacher they ask me questions in English sometime is hard to understand each other from simple things like bake beans the don’t have it in French so we go round the bend trying to understand


Net cafe
The owner of the net café and his family have been very welcoming, the guys there make me the local tea they don’t put much sugar in mine they all know I am about to go and feel a little sad that their Anglais friend is going

My local people

I have certainly bonded with most of the locals and feel some of their happiness and pains.
I have also proven to my self that language is not a barrier, some of the market women that I buy my food supplies from don’t even speak French only Bambara, yet I am able to have conversation and a laugh with them, majority of African men don’t step a foot in the market let alone cook yet they have see me there a lot of times, I suppose they find it amusing and surprise about this man, I am sure they trust the choice of my ingredients. I try to spread my purchase around so they all benefit from when I visit the market. They were a bit reluctant for their pictures to be taken, but with time they have warmed up to me and ask me for their photos to be taken, bless them

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Brushing shoulders with the Stars

The last two weeks have been very exciting also in terms of meeting and interviewing some of the best musicians in Africa two Grammy award winners and one Grammy nominated artist.
Toumani Diabate based in Mali Mamoudou Diabate based in the Carolina in the USA, Habib Koite based in Mali and Belgium
I am please and am glad and feel very lucky to have been in the company of these great and
Talented musicians who have shown interest in me my music and my quest. I have found it quite humbling and as an inspiration and as a fuel to propel me from now and in the future. In cha Allah as they say in this part of the world.


The last few weeks has been very busy and full of activities as it’s nearing the end of my long stay in Africa
One might find it hard to understand the latter point, even thou I am from Africa this is the longest I have been in Africa for twenty three years most times I have visited my native Ghana for few weeks, eight weeks maximum, so this is a big deal for me. I have invariably reassured my self that I can still survive the hash and enjoyable realities of the continent that is dubbed with problems, at least I have seen for my self that its not all dark and gloom
Now that my days are numbered I have this paradoxical feeling of being happy and sad its been an adventure like no before in rough and hardship some blips of happiness sleeping in tents, sharing bed with mosquitoes eating rough meeting nice people good and modest hotels, and dormitories and the occasional odd people.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dogon Country

The Dogon country was one of the remotest places in Mali and had such rich and diversified culture. I felt privileged to be in such a place, I also felt humbled and became aware of the lot of things I have read about this part of Mali.
The place was too rich in culture and tradition, some stuff was familiar and some was not, there was also an element of fear in the midst of all the tranquillity
When the old Mercedes Benz truck pulled up to the top of the mountain at Benjimeato the harsh reality hit home, people have lived here for centuries yet time seem to have stood still, the inhabitants are happy with their basic dwellings and way of life.
We visited the three main villages the catholic, the Muslim and the Animist camps. Very different sometimes scary, our guide did all he could to make us get a lot out of our little time in the Dogon we set off after some rest and headed down the valley to the next village


Mopti seem quite busy, it’s got a bay like natural harbour, which makes it quite busy.
We stayed just one night and in the morning went for a walk and then explored the city including a trip to the local market for more supplies for our trip to the Dogon,we got back to our hotel and got our bit and made it to the station.
At the station Paul thinks we’ve been messed about at places so we should not pay our fare till we know when we are leaving so the man at the ticket office is not happy but we have waited an hour so Paul went to look for a taxi to take us ,on his return we got our bags and left but we were followed by one guy from the station who wanted to make an issue about us taking a taxi which was not in the union or whatever we eventually left in this car with lot of wet seats but it worth every bit of it so we go to Bandiagara and checked into a hotel and in the eve decided to cook some food, but the desert sand has got into the stove so it was cooking very slow so I went out and found a family who allowed me to use their kitchen for a bit and I paid them some money for their fire and generosity.
We found some guys to do business with about a guide to the Dogon country and arranged all the bits involved. We were glad we got a good deal and a good guide so we set off to The Dogon the next morning with Samba Timberly

Out of Toumbuctu

Just as it is hard to get to Toumbuctu it is hard to get out of Toumbuctu our journey started about 12 noon to get out to the port for the pinasse or the powered boat we eventually got to the port about 2pm but had to sit there for some time waiting for some more people to turn up eventually we gave an ultimatum to the operator Babylon is his name, instead of him telling us the whole truth he set off but on an incredible slow speed. This was to ensure that other pinase caught up with us to give us more people. Eventually we stopped and camped about 6 was a good location but there was no wood to make any fire, we managed to get a bit of wood but the fire died sooner so went to sleep shortly after.
The next morning we were all woken up quite early and our journey started with few more new people, the energy in the boat has changed since because the new arrivals were unhappy about the charge as they seem to have paid more than the rest of us so there was a bit of tension which Paul helped to at least temporary resolve. Eventually the dust settled and we all started to relax a bit on the Niger. Our nest stop was Niafonky the home town of Ali Faka Toure we went to Ali’s hotel for a drink this was after 6pm so when we left. We went just to find a camping site and camped for the night
The next morning we carried on as usual this time the boat has picked up steam but we are not on target as we lost lot of time on the first day.
By now the atmosphere on the boat has changed and people have been getting on and making connections .I have been a bit unwell with cold and am coughing which is making me a bit grumpy but I am staying cheerful on top of everything I have been nervous because I am not a very good swimmer and I get frighten when people walk on the sides the boat shifts deeper on one side
We travelled quite a bit and got to the bit of the Niger where it has claimed quite some land to form one of the biggest lakes in Africa
I was quite nervous at this section, as there was no sight of land and all sort of fears sets in my mind. At this point I snapped few times when I thought people were being irresponsible by unnecessarily walking and moving to just one side of the boat, I also thought our captain wasn’t assertive enough and was too chilled t o entrusted with my life hence have to make my views known by him and every one so I spoke up and made my point, night was falling by the time we cleared the lake so another search for camping site begun, the boat crew found some where but not everyone was happy about this choice so the had to drive on till we all agreed with the choice. By now some of us were a bit fed up as we were supposed to camped two nights and travelled for three days
We got off and put our tents up, then me and Paul made fire and prepared some gravy and boiled some potatoes it was probably the best meal I have had for days we all enjoyed it and the retired to our tents Sheila was a bit concern that we were camping in ants territory so we made sure the fire was burning well when we went to our tents
The morning was mild I got up quite early and did my packing and was ready so was Paul and Sheila we went and woke the guys on the boat, soon we well on the way this bit was quite picturesque we stopped at some villages on the way for some few bits for the board chef and a bit of walking, it was interesting at some of the villages.
Eventually we got to our final destination Mopti, I phoned my contact that Sandy my friend in Bamako had arranged, as it happened he was taking me to the same place as Paul and Sheila had planned to stay, it seems like we are destined to be together so we kept it that way and made our arrangements to Dogon


The festival of the desert begun on the 11th Jan 2007,I had made arrangement for transport to the venue in a 4 x 4 truck which departed after about 3 hrs of waiting, we set off on a desert track for about 2hrs eventually we arrived in Essakane after some bumpy desert ride, it’s a journey only for the four by fours
The location was excellent just as I imagined full of sand and dunes. It was time to take it all in after the ride, I found a place to lodge under a big tent where I placed my small tent. I was glad I was sharing a tent space with the two ladies I had shared the ride with. We got on so it was easy in that respect
After a bit of a stroll I found my new friends from Canada Paul and Sheila so we went for a little drink in one of the beer tents which was quite a stone throw from their tent.
About 10 pm we went to check the main stage and the festival was officially opened. Speeches were made, the usual protocols and the festival was on the way with some Toureg traditional bands, it was really good start and I felt good. The only thing, which came in between the enjoyment and me, is the African soldiers who always seem to want to sharpen their batons whenever there is an occasion. This has been the norm in most circumstances in most countries that I have visited.
The setting was very beautiful around the immediate area was some sand dunes where fires were lit in a nice circular lines. The first night was good and the music stopped and carried on right through the nigh
Day two was good in Essakane a lot of activities it feel like a whole village has emerged from traders of little souvenirs to big market stalls selling all sort of things from Mali, there were all sort of people from all corners of the word mixing and having fun as well as sharing sometimes, it was really a good atmosphere. There was virtually no police presence even thou there were some soldiers stationed nearby they kept quite a low profile. I think this also epitomised the quality of the people around. I think we all had one aim. Hence a very nice festival.
There was lot of water considering it was on the desert, the only disappointment was the loos and the wash rooms, but I think it was to be expected as it was being stretched to the limit and there was no cleaners to my were some few little bits that wasn’t up to scratch but in all the organisers have done well in putting everything together in such a remote spot. The sound quality was also superb .in all its thumbs up well done to the organisers.