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Day 40: Bamako

Michael Palin - SaharaIn an attempt to make sense of such an exhilarating but unfamiliar world, I hope to meet up with Toumani Diabate, one of a group of local poets and musicians which is building a growing following for Malian music in Europe and America, and whose album, Djelika, I've been listening to constantly for the last three months.

Everyone seems to know Toumani. As soon as I mention his name Mr Yatarra nods and points out the way to his house.

'Another coffee?'

'Not right now, thanks.'

It turns out that Toumani has seven houses and no-one is quite sure which one he's in. We're told to await him at the most likely, a tall rambling complex off a baked-earth street. It's a modest enough area, but lines of broken glass and razor wire on top of the 15-foot walls of the courtyard are a bit of a giveaway. The rock star-style elusiveness and eventual arrival in dazzling white open-topped Mercedes lead me to suspect ego trouble. I could not have been more wrong.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 40
  • Country/sea: Mali
  • Place: Bamako
  • Book page no: 123

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