Segou, by many a tourist, known as the laid-back city at the Niger riverbank has been hit hard by the crisis. About 80% of all souvenir shops in the city center have closed down and the usually bustling Monday market on the river quay isn’t even half as busy as it used to. The streets are quiet. Very quiet!
A stillness has covered the city center. Even the guides and boatmen who usually swarm around, hoping to find some clients, have disappeared. The past few years had already been hard for them. This year their hopes for a good season were smashed to smithereens and even the most positive ones amongst them are finding it hard to keep up the vibes. Some have traveled abroad in search for work, others returned to their family’s courtyard and are working the fields.
Walking through the empty streets, taking the time to catch up with the few shop owners that are still around, I am above surprised when arriving at Ibrahim’s shop there’s a lot of activity. Even though there are no possible clients around, all merchandise is displayed outside as always and his three employees are in the process of creating instruments, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Realizing that it may take a while before the Malian economy and tourism will pick up again, they too are worried for the near future. At least the process of creation provides a change and keeps them from spending too much time in the once so lively streets.
Ramadan, the 30-day fasting period for Muslims, has started yesterday, making it even more quiet in the streets and faces may soon become even more narrow than they already are.
May you all have a peaceful Ramadan!