I've been trying to find, so far with little success, the great Malian singer Salif Keita, who has a club, Moffou, on the outskirts of Bamako. It's been said, and I still believe, that with a little luck one can just show up and hang out with Salif. But time and again such luck has eluded me.
I recall once, somewhere in southeast Asia earlier this year, getting a text message from my friend Kyle, an expat in Yemen who was doing some shady business in Mali at that time. He asked if I knew the name of Salif Keita's club. Since I was near a web connection, I texted him back that it's called Moffou, and I might have even specified that it's in the Kalaban-Coura district.
In any case, hours later he wrote back that he'd jumped in a taxi and found Salif there, as though waiting for him, and hung out with him for a bit.
You too can try this next time you're in Bamako. All you have to do is grab a taxi and say, “Kalaban-Coura, Moffou!” You'll end up at a place that looks like this:
The first time I did it, last Sunday afternoon, we reached the Moffou compound and found a man in a suit jacket in the courtyard. The sharply dressed man explained (in French) that yes, Salif was indeed in town, but in
the studio at the moment; if we were to show up at 6pm, he'll be here.
Unfortunately we couldn't find the motivation to make the trip again that same day.
The second time, I went (alone), aiming for 6pm, only to find the place empty, with a guard outside explaining that Salif had some important business to attend to in a house on the river (that's the extent of my French) but that I would certainly meet him if I came back at 8pm that evening — or if not, then at 2pm the following day. But come back at 8, the man repeated; he'll be here.
I returned at 8:30pm, to be told Salif had already left. But I would certainly catch him if I came around at 2pm exactly the following day.
following day was today.
I took a taxi out to Moffou at 2pm, my fourth visit. I finally met somebody there who speaks some English, a radio broadcast journalist named Coulibaly, who told me that while Salif was not there at the moment, if I waited or came back at 4pm, I could definitely meet him.
Sadly, I have to get on a bus to Mopti, on the road to Timbuktu, at 4pm. But Coulibaly gave me his phone number so I could arrange things next time I'm in Bamako.
Yes, this will be continued. Right now I'm off to Timbuktu.