A substantial part of the Malian population lives in villages. Most of this villages still have no running water or electricity and daily life focuses on the basic needs. Agriculture is all around and the villagers are more or less self supporting, selling part of their produce and products on local markets to gain the money to fulfill what other needs they have.
Youngsters of course do have their dreams. And many of them travel to the cities when they are teenagers to make some money. Not all of them do succeed, since there’s not a huge demand for workers and challenges are many. Many of them will manage to earn enough to make a living.
And those who are willing to work long days in physical straining circumstances, not spending their money on girls and other worldly pleasures, might manage to save up a substantial amount.
On an almost daily basis the piece of land in front of my house is covered with all kinds of things: carpets, blankets and clothes add color to the sand road with the mud brick walls.
About a hundred meters further up the road there’s a Fulani run business. The men wash the huge loads of laundry in the river, often singing and yelling when they are working on the heavy pieces, giving themselves a rhythm. And when they do well, there’s a lot of laughter going on.
There used to be a youngster with wide bright smiles and sparkling eyes picking up all the pieces in front of my house in the late afternoon. I hadn’t seen him around for a while.
‘He returned to his village’, Amadou told me.
‘Monique, you should have seen him, he was so proud! He had made so much money that he bought himself this huge transistor radio and a brand new motor.’
And laughing out loud Amadou continued: ‘He didn’t even know how to ride the motor, he was pushing it up the street all the way to the bus station!’
He has returned to his village, back to basic life, ready to start a family. And if his parents haven’t already found him a wife, his new possessions and stories of life in the city will definitely contribute to his popularity with the local girls!
Nobody will ever be able to take away the memories of his time in the city. And his transistor radio and motor might encourage other youngsters to break away from the village for a couple of years to fulfill their dreams.
He made it!