‘Did they ask you for permission?’ Ibrahim asks, returning home one day.
‘Permission? What for?’ I replied in surprise.
‘You’ll see’, he said when we walked to the courtyard gate.
‘Oh no, are they having another party?’, I asked noticing the speakers being set up right in front of our bedroom window.
Organizing a party is very easy in Mali:
step 1: collect money – about 250 cfa per kid (circa € 0,40) will do if there are enough kids
step 2: hire a dj with equipment (huge speakers are a must)
step 3: find a neighbour who is willing to give you access to his electricity sockets – do this no longer than about an hour before the start of the party; with everything organized and set up you’ll definitely find someone who’ll surrender rather than having to face the disappointment of so many kids
No more than a month ago, Moussa, the caretaker of our courtyard, knocked on the door, asking us if we would mind the neighbourhood children throwing a party in the street. And if they could plug in the cables at our courtyard – meaning we would be paying for the electricity. All others at the courtyard had already agreed, so we too surrendered.
And surrender it was, since the speakers were placed no more than 3 meters from our bedroom windows. They partied till the early hours, and caught up on sleep the following day. Thinking we would be done with parties for a while I was fine with it.
It was only a short while, though. A few weeks later there was another party set up. And no they did not ask me or anyone else at our courtyard for permission. Why would they? They had asked someone on another courtyard for permission to plug in the cables. Whether we liked it or not we were facing another very short night.
‘The streets belong to everybody’, Ibrahim sighed with a quick look on my face, before we left the scene for a dinner in town.
Sure, the streets may belong to everybody, but it would be nice if people wouldn’t disturb their neighbour’s sleep.
‘That’s the way it goes here, people do not really respect other people. They only think about themselves’, Ibrahim sighed once more.
‘And nobody asks them to start thinking before acting, so nothing will ever change’, I replied.
Later that evening, killing time drinking a cup of tea in our favorite restaurant in town, Ibrahim explained that it is written in the Koran to not disturb your neighbours. Mali being a 95% Muslim country it makes you wonder.
It’s probably not the best known – or at least not respected – paragraph of the Koran by the people of Mali.