"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three years ago...

Introduction to a trip. Thanks to a former student, now a professor of ag comm at OSU--Dr. Shelly Peper Sitton, I went to Mali with an OSU group on a state department grant to help bolster the press in this Muslim American-friendly democracy at the south side and edge of the Sahara. I was the token newspaper expert in this 65 percent illiterate country where radio is king, but everyone has cell phones.

It's hard for me to believe it's been three years since that trip that changed my life perspective. I have written much aobut it on the trip blog and in my journals since then, and I want to share some thoughts and photos with you.

To begin with today, just a few photographs. My favorites--of children-- are on another computer, so they're coming soon.

This little girl holding baby sister caught my eye. She's among the better off in Bamako, the capital city, living in a compound of several families who share a bathroom but have their own private quarters. They all wear bright clothes in this desert country.

Among the poorer sections of Bamako... everybody works hard. There are goats in the yards, but they still dress beautifully in this dry dusty and sub desert country.

A street scene in Bamako. Notice the smiles. Everywhere we went,
people smiled and were
glad and curious to see us.
The "kitchen" in a poor area of Bamako. Careful how you define poor...a dollar a day is the average income. They make a millet stew with Okra gravy for most meels. The cloth at the back is the "screen" door for a bedroom.
We didn't "rough it," however. This hotel, with air conditioning, was home for a week. We were fortunate. Most  Malians never touch such luxury.
Our group with children in a rural village where cotton was the main crop. Notice the bright colors, the clothes on the clothes line. It was March and the temperature was already between 100 and 110, and that wasn't the hot season. I felt more at home because of the adobe and dry climate  reminded me of New Mexico. My friend and interpreter Assoumane Maiga is at right. My friend Dr. Shelly Sitton is third from the left. Rachel  Hubbard of KOSU is fifth from left. Aren't all we kids wonderful!

Footnote: Assoumane is now a doctoral student  in the ag comm program at OSU, along with another favorite former student, Angel Riggs, formerly of the Tulsa World capitol bureau. This is the same program I've recommended to Korina Dove Schneider, a UCO broadcasting grad who produced the terrific weekly newspaper, The North Central Reporter. See how many stories photographs prompt?

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