Monday, September 17, 2007

Update from Bamako

This morning I needed to find the residence of the ‘Ambassade de la Republique de XXXXXX au Mali’ for I was in need of a visa to go there.

Stepping out on to the street, the first taxi driver was not too receptive, and I have grown rather cagey about such souls, harmless though they maybe.

Lady luck though was looking my way, for the next taxi to stop brought with it a driver claiming to be no less than a brother to his Excellency the Ambassador himself!

Obtaining visas in the region to travel within the region is relatively easy. The official fee, bolstered with a little buckshee does wonders and it is not unusual to get what you want in a matter of hours, a day at the most.

Well, we arrive with no further ado at the embassy; my ‘chauffeur’ accompanies me inside and seems quite lordly about it too. The Secretary to the Ambassador appears, I state my request, an exchange between my new friend and him and voila, in ten minutes I am in possession of the required document, signed and stamped! I am impressed.

There is a saying in these parts, ‘C’est l’Afrique’, the equal of ‘This is Africa’…. An exclamation that covers not only the good but the bad too, Murphy’s Law if you like. For anything can happen. A flight delayed due to the absence of jet fuel, luggage lost for a few days, only to appear in another country altogether…. The trick is in keeping a smile on your face, to walk in Africa, expecting the worst, hoping, praying for the best.

I am happy to be here, for I enjoy the opportunity to move with people, to have a hands on approach to what I do. I do not miss my office, the people I work with, I do miss my Lady, my friends.

There is a young man I know here. The first day we met, attired in an old t shirt, a pair of jeans and scruff ed boots. His office, a cramped, dusty dimly light room, cluttered desk….. The next day he was still attired as he was 24hrs before. That evening as we met for dinner, his wardrobe remained as it was. And yet, outside, his chariot a BMW X5 SUV.

He is bright, he is young and he is a star this man. But to see him on the street, you would not know him to be so. Yesterday I toured his new office, a warehouse downstairs, his office upstairs, it was good to see his success, his achievements.

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