Wednesday, January 27, 2010

13 hours...

I'm ready to go; just finishing up quick tasks for deadlines that will pass before I return. Tomorrow, Thursday, I will fly to Atlanta, then Paris - staying one night - then on to Bamako by Saturday evening. I'm excited, but I wish I was bringing Phil and Walker and Taimir. That would make it the best trip. In lieu of that I will bring the trip back with me, in every way I know how.

This photo was taken on Oct. 12, 2009. The tall man with the white scarf is Le Mairie de Segou, Ousmane Simaga. To his left in light blue is Madani Sissoko, head of the Segou Comite du Jumelage or Segou's Sister City Commission. To the mayor's right, wearing pink, is the mayor's nephew, Nouhoume Simaga, who works in the ministry of tourism in Bamako. And there is Taimir wearing a bag made in Segou, decorated with the chi'wara - antelope - Mali's national symbol. Mali actually means hippopotamus, and as one of the most dangerous animals in African waterways, constitutes a potent symbol of protection.

The group is being serenaded by a group of 2 year olds at the Southside Child Development Center in Richmond, Virginia, and Monsieur Simaga is holding a gift he received from the children only moments before they began singing. Taimir acted as an ambassador to SCDC because he is a graduate of this wonderful center.
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It was during this visit to Richmond that the Sister City agreement was signed, on Oct. 13th, by M. Simaga and his counterpart, Mayor Dwight Jones, both of whom had taken office in 2009. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mayor Jones' assistant Cheryl Ivy-Green for her role in getting the two mayors schedules to align during a very busy time and in very short notice.

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