Women in Mali

Madame the vice-mayor of Timbuktu
Many articles and reports have been done on the condition of women in Africa or in Islam or in Muslim Africa and so on. I have often been asked my opinion either on the veracity of said articles or on the condition of women in such circumstances. My response is that it is much more complex than can easily be summed up in a 500 word article. It is also my feeling that such articles written by outsiders are often biased.

I will not deny that there is inequality of the sexes in Mali and I will discuss them. But other factors play a role. We must look not only at how our perceptions cause us to misjudge cultural differences but also that some issues that women face are not so much intentional discrimination rather they are the result of a very poor country with too few resources to meet the needs of its population. The final aspect of this question is that we in the west must first examine our own women's equality before seeking to accuse others. Let not those living in glass houses throw stones.

Jawiya Koy

Jawara koy from a mispronunciation of the arabic word zawia meaning a place (house or whole neighbourhood) of repose where travelers, students, and others could stay and find meals and koy the Songai word for proprietor, thus the sheik or chief responsible for such a place who financed it and often offered charity to, or took care of debts of, the impoverished who made use of it. Read More...

Traditional Wedding

Bride in veil
Weddings in Africa are complex, nuanced affairs. They are also rarely without challenges. Never have I attended one that didn’t have a share of the participants grumbling over some gap in the organization or imagined slight on the part of someone involved. It is an event full of details and frustrations for the organizers and also one of great importance to the life of the bride who will only ever have the one wedding of such pomp. This is where she is fussed over and celebrated and where should receive as gifts all the materials needed to start a household, from dishes and utensils, to quilts and carpets to clothing and cosmetics. Here is an insiders account of one wedding, as all wedding not without its tribulations but ultimately coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Read More...

On Slavery

Slavery is a delicate subject but as it is such an integral part of Timbuktu’s history it should be touched upon. Read More...