Wat is Mali-ka-di?Blog1What is mali ka di?Was ist Mali ka di?

Wat is Mali-ka-di?Blog1What is mali ka di?Was ist Mali ka di?

Professional formation revisited

Today (27 September) there was another course ‘Formation Professionelle’, and this time I (Willie) went along. And I must say much of my initial criticism evaporated. The group consists of some 12 men and 5 women – no gender difference apparent, albeit that the women take more catnaps (but then they presumably must work much harder….) The atmosphere was quite positive: people listened, took notes, asked questions, were concentrated on the materials, and … there was no chatting in between. I have seen things much less serious in the Old World. The teacher is rather young and slim, not at all the type of bully who normally has the say here. He is calm and emanates professionalism – walks calmly between the rows of chairs. And then there is group work with a clear assignments. The level is pretty low, which is what you would expect here: what do you want in a country where learning is not something that is considered important. So I was quite impressed by the seriousness and to see that brains were being made to use.

During lunch time quite good couscous and friendly contacts with other participants. I had the impression that they all went home enriched and were looking forward to the next session. How little it might have changed in the heads of participants, it was something. And Mali has to start with such ‘something’.

The course was taught this time in the Centre d’Artisanat (handicraft centre), a very large building meant for exhibition rooms and work studios for artists. But who will come and buy the exhibits if the tourist aren’t coming?

Some of the lecture rooms look perfect for our English courses, but Souleymane cut me short immediately: we will never get those rooms, because they are marked only for handicraft activities. Even if they are empty and not in use, no way: flexibility is something still to be desired….

Incicentally, I don’t hear anything any more about the English courses…. We would also try to canvass a (preferably female) translator Bambara – French over the local radio, but no result so far – pity, because we could organize games with the children in the street…. Patience, patience….

Technische kadervorming

Posted on 26 september 2011 by vanpeer| Leave a comment

Last Tuesday Mimi attended a course for professionals of diverse backgrounds– which provides the participants with the possibility to form small vocational centres.

Souleymane told us of the initiative and that he had already followed the greater part of the course. Now the second part starts on Monday and Tuesday. The money for this course comes from a Mali-Luxemburg organization which paid 13,5 million Euros for it, and the Malian government put another 3 million Euro on top of it. Thus hundreds of such courses are now taught all over the country. In order to motivate professionals to take part they are paid a daily wage (which is understandable because they would otherwise lose a day’s income), plus a free lunch and drinks (some 9 Euro per participant). Finally, to increase motivation even further, participants are given some extra money. Or quickly funds evaporate here.

The question is, however, what is learned in such courses: they are held in French, though most people speak (or understand) Bambara. The teacher does not ‘teach’, but lets someone from the audience read aloud part of the syllabus. Given the level of reading proficiency, one may imagine that this is not the most efficient instructional method. In the best of all worlds, the teacher changes some of the wordings that have been read aloud. Afterwards, questions are to be answered. Those questions are cleverly formulated, so that one has to really think hard what the question would really be…. But once one has grasped it, all answers are to be found literally in the text of the booklet used for the course. The teacher then writes the correct answer on the blackboard, and everyone copies them.

How far we are here from what ‘learning’ means to us in Europe…. But the hope is that in this way the terrible shortage of technical and vocational schools will be alleviated. And that problem is really gigantic: each year some 100,000 children are born in Mali – who will be able to build sufficient schools for them; let alone provide them with chairs and tables, with blackboards and chalk, with writing pads and pens, and … to pay the teachers??? So this course is a last-minute attempt to tackle these enormous problems by raising the number of professional trainers. But where it will end, nobody knows.



Posted on 18 september 2011 by vanpeer| Reageren uitgeschakeld

It is Sunday.  There was quite a fierce rainstorm last night. The Dutch couple who camped on the terrace, did not get wet, but they did not sleep very well… When I bring them a cup of tea at 7 a.m. the river is already bustling and the first barges with sand are already arriving. At the embankment it is as busy as ever. ‘Sunday’ is not a leisure day for everyone here.

At 9.30 am Alphonse picks us up in the borrowed car: the gear box groans like a half-dead donkey. First Alphonse shows us, not without pride, the school he has built (with the help of his uncle). Parts of it are still under construction, but at an advanced stage. In front the name ERICA (Ecole Régionale – Industrie -Commerce – Administration) is written.  The ground floor and the first floor each have 3 classrooms for about 50 pupils. Toilets are being built at this very moment.  The second floor is reserved for the ‘licences’ and will be part of the new university of Segou, department of finance and accountancy.



To the remark that courses will resume on 3 October, Alphonse reacts laconically – everything will be in order. If necessary he could start teaching right now, because he has everything ready ‘in his head’. That may sound somewhat exaggerated, but a shopping list evokes hilarious reactions here: either you know what you want to buy or you don’t, but certainly you will not write it down – oral culture deep-down!

Alphonse wants to avoid at all cost that his school will be modeled after French lycées with their ‘baccalauréat’, because that only produces unemployment, and Mali has no need for that. Rather it requires a skilled work force who can, for instance, repair a leaking tap in the kitchen. (Last week three taps were repaired here in the house, one of them in reverse, so that water spouted out: 1 cubic metre water lost – whereby the maximum is 3 cubic metres of water per month!)

After school Alphonse takes us to his home, where his wife, Oumou, who works for customs, hospitaly receives us. Daughter Maimouna of 8 serves Lipton tea with lemons, daughter Fatimata of 11 keeps rather aloof. It smells of incense in the house and of course the television is on – French stations, next to Africable operating also from Paris, but what is shown is just as banal as the soaps in Europe and America, except that the actors are black-skinned. I can imagine that for people here there is some charm and some interest in these exotic dream worlds. But why people in the West would waste their time on such idiocy remains a mystery to me….

We chat a bit: Oumou is now at home but works in shifts of 24 hours each, and each time at a different post: these are situated at some 12 km of each penetrating street into a town. (One wonders what there is to do with customs at this large scale in a country like Mali?…) Presumably she got the job because she did a good deal of volunteer work for the administration.

La Sociabilité

Alphonse had arranged a meeting for us with the mayor, but in the immediate neighbourhood of the Mairie (Town Hall) dozens of cars and hundreds of people block all roads: it is Sunday so a day of marriage. Everyone is in his/her very best clothes; but no way to get through with the car. Just imagine what hooting, insults and even aggression this would cause in Europe. But even in this seething heat nothing of the kind happens: everyone remains relaxed, but is also helpful. True, there are some nasty looks and some sarcastic words, but in the end it is jokes that form the bulk of remarks, everyone makes a little space, nobody gets worked up. And after a few minutes we are through what looked like a nightmare traffic jam. Hands are shaken, ‘pas de problèmes!’ When Alphonse brings us back home – of course without having seen the mayor! Lol – he says, before we leave the car: This is Mali!  “Même si on est méchant, il y a toujours la sociabilité.” (Even if one is full of malicious intent, one can still be sociable.”) Hmmm … perhaps we can still learn a few things from that in the West.



Posted on 11 september 2011 by vanpeer| Reageren uitgeschakeld


voorbijvarende prauw








The Niger-river is considerably broader than the last time we were here (during the dry season); I guess some 2 km wide now. And the canoes that glide over it are truly majestic and of an aesthetic beauty hard to imagine. They bring back to mind Paul van Ostaijen’s poem:

Mélopée – Paul van Ostaijen

Under the moon the long river slides
Over the long river the moon sleepily slides
Under the moon on the long river the canoe slides to sea

Past the high reed
past the low pasture
slides the canoe to sea
slides with the sliding moon the canoe to sea
So to sea they are companions the canoe the moon and the man
Why do the two the moon and the man meekly slide to sea

(transl. Marcel Volker)




Posted on 10 september 2011 by vanpeer| Leave a comment


Wednesday, 7 September at 17.40 from Brussels to Casablanca, then further on to Bamako after a few hours, where arrival at 01.00 a.m. Boubakar, Ann’s driver, is waiting for us, but the whole airport seems to be aware that a role of roof covering arrived yesterday with Air France cargo – and they ALL want to help us to recover it. Slept a few hours at Tounga Tours, and then off to Bamako administrative centre for the extension of our visa for 6 months. Was a piece of cake, since Amina’s mother helped us out.

Then off to Air France cargo. Although a gift and although meant to help the children of Fintigila, it cost us a few hundred Euros (and a couple of hours) that partly disappear in the pockets of civil servants, who have not the worst of incomes…. So we learnt another lesson: next time we will have to devise another means to get the help goods here.

Europeans have will-power!

The following night I wake up with serious pain. I now remember that during packing the help goods in Antwerp, while bending over a metal case, I hurt a rib at a sharp corner, but it did not feel that painful. And in any case, such pain dissipates slowly. But the pain seems to drastically increase and I gasp for breath. So called Europ Assistance, who did a wonderful job over the phone. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, we went to see Dr. Pierre Touré of the Clinique Pasteur, who received us within an hour, took a X-rayof my lungs, listened to the lungs carefully, and declared me as healthy as could be. He walks around the clinique, going from patient to patient comforting like a Santa Claus who has everything under control.

We talk about some of the art works on the walls of his cabinet; one of them, painted by a young French woman who did developing work in Mali. She reversed a truck with relief supplies, not realizing she was pulling back into a gorge…. and (literally) broke her neck. Dr. Touré operated on her, but she remained paralyzed completely for the rest of her life. The painting she had sent him she had painted with her mouth as thanks for his help and support. Whereupon Dr. Touré told us: “Ah, vous, les Européens, vous avez la volonté.” (Europeans have will-power!)

His experience as a physician had told him that young African men in the same situation (which he had also operated on) usually were dead after a few weeks – they simply refused to accept such a fate. To remember: la volonté, sheer willpower. Only: how do you instruct someone to exert willpower???

Back to Segou!

1 taxi does not suffice for our 130 kg luggage, so in a convoy of 2 taxis to the bus stop of Somatra. We nest ourselves behind the driver, and make the acquaintance of Alphonse, a Malian teacher who taught in a lycée in Reims in France for four years, but has now left France because of the increasing racism. Back in Segou he wishes to focus on the translation into Bambara of relevant books for technical subjects to be taught in a new school he is building. He also wants to improve his English, because Mali has to get out of the grip of the French, he believes. Also two students of midwifery in their final year of studies, Zeinab and Aminata, sitting on the seats behind us, want to take part in the English course. My course is going to be full!…

Beautifully green landscapes – how different from the brownish colour in the dry season! We even get some torrential rains! We make a stop in Fana, Alphonse’s birth village (but mainly to pray); see his wife in a flash; eat a corncob – and perhaps that was a serious mistake…. We drive through Konobugu, where our young friend Jochem (11) finances his PLAN child on one of these financial adoption schemes. We enter Segou in the dark. A young taxidriver manages to get ALL our luggage and us included into his old and derelict car and takes us to Monique, who welcomes us with homemade pumpkin soup. In a sense we are lucky that the house next door, which we had intended to rent, is not in order, and that Monique doesn’t have tourist visitors, so that we can take up residence with her (in her most spacious and most beautiful apartment). We immediately feel at home, both with her and in Segou. It’s like coming home.


Mali-ka-di (for an explanation of the name, click here) is a foundation after Belgian law, seated in Antwerp, with the aim of promoting

the self-fulfilment and self-realization of Mali’s inhabitants in creative and social respects.

The foundation originated in a private initiative of two people who are all too conscious how lucky they are to have been born in a part of the world where they have not had to fight for survival, but could successfully actualize their own self. They founded Mali-ka-di to develop projects of self-help in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world. Mali is poor, but it possesses a consummate cultural tradition that is in many places forgotten or in danger of being forgotten. But Mali possesses first and foremost warm hearted, inquisitive and interested people who are, however, through their fatal economic situation excluded from participation in the international world. We aspire to stimulate Malian people to appropriate their feeling of self-worth in creative and cultural respect and to take up an independent and cherished place through their integration in the global development.

To this end various activities may contribute, especially:

  • exchange projects

  • publicatons

  • exhibitions

  • theater

  • film

  • cultural encounters

  • literacy programmes

  • the preservation and enhancement of Malinese literary and musical traditions

In short, all cultural, educational, cultural and scientific initiatives and events aiming both at short- and long-term effects and having both an individual and collective effusion.

The foundation supports activities in Segou and its environment in Mali. The foundation is a non-profit organization and has no commercial objectives. All finances gained or generated through its activities or otherwise must be re-invested in its current or new projects. Work carried out for the foundation is done on a voluntary basis.Dit is de website van Mali-ka-di, wat zoveel betekent als “Mali is aangenaam” in het Bamanankan, één van de West-Afrikaanse talen die er gesproken worden. Heel vaak wordt de taal ook “Bambara” genoemd, naar de grootste etnische groep die ze spreekt. (Heb je interesse voor de taal? Zie dan elders op deze website).

Mali-ka-di is een Belgische Vereniging Zonder Winstoogmerk, (vzw). Een vzw is een vereniging van mensen die zich inzetten voor een maatschappelijk doel zonder daar zelf voordeel mee te halen. Winst maken met een vzw mag niet. Of: je moet die winst meteen weer gebruiken voor de doelen van de vzw. De mensen die zich dus inzetten voor de  doelen van de vzw doen dat om te helpen, om de wereld een beetje leefbaarder te maken, om daar bij te springen op plaatsen waar mensen minder geluk hebben gehad dan wij.

Wat is het doel van Mali-ka-di?

De zelfontplooiing van de inwoners van Mali in creatief en sociaal opzicht.

Hiervoor kunnen verschillende middelen worden ingezet, in het bijzonder vormingsprogramma’s zoals onder meer:

–       Uitwisselingsprogramma’s en wederzijdse contacten,

–       publikaties,

–       tentoonstelllingen,

–       scholing, cursussen en opleidingen

–       workshops

–       congressen en discussies

kortom allerlei culturele, educatieve en wetenschappelijke initiatieven en activiteiten die zowel op korte- als op lange-termijn ontwikkeling op gang brengen, zowel voor individuele en gemeenschappelijke werking.

De v.z.w. heeft zijn zetel in Antwerpen (België) van waaruit de activiteiten in Segou (Mali) mede georganiseerd en ondersteund worden. De werking van de v.z.w. is begonnen in 2011 en beoogt een continuïteit in zijn werking in Segou en omgeving te garanderen, uiteraard samen met en deels ook onder leiding van de plaatselijke bevolking.Mali-ka-di e.V. ist ein eingetragener Verein nach belgischem Recht, mit Sitz in Antwerpen. Der Verein initiiert, unterstützt und begleitet kompetent gemeinnützige Projekte zur Selbsthilfe in Ségou (Republik Mali)

Mali-ka-di e.V. entstand aufgrund der privaten Inititative zweier Afrika begeisterter Menschen, die sich bewusst sind, welch Glück ihnen zu Teil wurde, in einem Teil der Erde geboren worden zu sein, indem sie nicht um ihr Überleben kämpfen mußten, sondern sich frei und erfolgreich verwirklichen konnten. Sie gründeten Mali-ka-di e.V. um Projekte zur Selbsthilfe in Mali zu realisieren, einer der ärmsten Regionen der Welt.

Mali ist arm, aber Mali besitzt eine großartige kulturelle Tradition, die vielerorts in Vergessenheit geraten ist oder dabei ist, verloren zu gehen. Vorallem aber besitzt Mali warmherzige, neugierige und interessierte Menschen, die durch ihre wirtschaftlich fatale Situation von der internationalen Teilhabe an der Welt ausgeschlossen sind. Wir möchten, dass sich die Einwohner Malis vor allem auch in kreativer und kultureller Hinsicht wieder ein Selbstwertgefühl aneignen und durch eine internationale Eingebundenheit in die globalen Entwicklungen in der Welt einen eigenständigen und wertgeschätzten Platz einnehmen können.

Mali-ka-di e.V. fördert Aktivitäten

  • zur Erhaltung und Förderung von malinesischer Literatur und Musik
  • Austauschprojekte
  • Veröffentlichungen
  • Ausstellungen
  • Theater
  • Film
  • kulturelle Begegnungen,
  • Alphabetisierungs- und Bildungsprojekte

Kurzum, Mali-ka-di setzt sich für zahlreiche kulturelle, pädagogische, und wissenschaftliche Initiativen und Aktivitäten, -individueller oder kollektiver Art – ein, die als Ziel eine sowohl kurze als auch langfristige positive Auswirkung auf die Entwicklung des Landes haben.

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