The other person we spent the most time with was Segou's mayor (maire), Ousmane K. Simaga. We were guests in his home every day for lunch; for which we owe a deep debt of gratitude to his wife and family. He hosted many of the meetings we attended and from 3rd to the 7th of February (festival week) we were guests of the festival as well as the city and so were seated in the VIP section with le Maire, local, regional and state-level officials, entrepreneurial, cultural and international dignitaries as well as guests from Netherlands, Portugal and Mexico.
Ousmane is a very charismatic figure, and seemed very popular with the public. The mairie, or town hall, while securely guarded, seems to welcome drop-in visits by residents with issues to bring to the mayor's attention. And he spoke to people on the way to and from meetings, passersby. He took office mid-year 2009 on the above referenced platform and, with some pretty pointed commissions established and personnel appointments made, appears to be putting in place the infrastructure to work concretely toward his platform's fulfillment.
As Robin put it, there can be a very fine line between a celebration and a riot. But why not be among the people? Simaga danced with them and then thrust Robin into the midst of them, more gently introduced Michelle and then me - I think I shook hands with every single one of them. Simaga then called out the organizer of the rally and congratulated him on his leadership and intitiative, and seemed to be well-synchronized with the reality that Segou was already in their hands. Madani stood by, joining in at various points - he was known to them as well - very well known as I was to come to understand over the next several days.
- Katherine D. SHARP, Public Affairs Officer, United States Department of State, US Embassy Bamako, Mali
- FIRST MEETING in SEGOU: Mayor Ousmane SIMAGA, and President of the Segou Sister City Commission Madani SISSOKO
- Elected Municipal Councilors of Segou (15 of the 33)
- Segou Sister City Commission (Segou Comite de Jumelage)
- Coordination of Segou NGOs (non-government organizations) and 19 NGOs were present
- Coordination of Civil Society (which includes NGOs, but also district associations, Chefs de Quartiers, religious associations (Islamic and Christian), traditional communicators = GRIOTS, women’s associations, human rights and press organisations, and the football (soccer) federation) and there were 17 people led by Mr Boubacar Theodore DIOP
- Forum on Governance and Culture (opening session)
- Press Conference with the Mayor and 15 journalists from local radio and newspapers.
- Mayors of Goundam, Mopti, Fana, Sikasso, Pelegana and Segouba – all guests of Mayor SIMAGA at the Segou Festival
- Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Mr N’Diaye BA
- Minister of Culture, Mr El Moctar
- Opening reception (Vernissage) of exhibition of work that culminated from 10-week workshop at local atelier. Took place in Art Gallery on festival grounds.
- Segou Festival organizers Mr Mamou DAFFE and Mr Mohamed DOUMBIA
- Music Festival organisers from Senegal, Portugal and Mexico
- Special Representative of the President of Mali and Head of State, Mr Seydou DOUCOURE, Delegate to the Francophonie
- Minister of State for the Office du Niger in Segou Province, Mr Abou SOW, former Governor of Segou
- Governor of Segou Province, Mr Boureima SEYBA (newly confirmed in office)
- Préfet of the Cercle de Ségou, Mr Boubacar TRAORE
- CPEL – Comité pour la Promotion de l’Economie Locale (equivalent of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, we think) led by Mr Mahamane COULIBALY Executive Secretary and M. Djibril GUISSE Permanent Secretary
- Working Group on Assainissement = water, hygiene and waste disposal for the purpose of better health and sanitation, under the chairmanship and direction of Mr Yacouba TAMBOURA.
- Madame Eugenie Ormsby, member of the Sister City Commission of Angoulême (France) – Segou’s other sister city since 1984
- Mr Abdoulaye SIDIBE of the Millennium Cities Initiative – of which Segou is one.
- Association Balanzan: Segou citizens resident in France who support education and hygiene initiatives in Segou’s schools
- International press photographer Africa Sam (Cheick Oumar Keita)
- Internationally-renowned artist Amaghiré DOLO and his workshop members who include a well-known British ecological artist Ms Wren Miller.
- Centre SOROBLE bogolan workshop run by the three Coulibaly brothers, who already supply VFOM member Haoua Cheikh Traore with many of the crafts she sells, including at the Richmond Folk Festival.
- Mr Win Winogrand, American philanthropist who is interested in promoting a music school or some other mechanism for supporting Malian music.
- Lycée Michel Allaire head teacher Mr Zantigui SIDIBE and staff, including English teacher.
- Early Childhood Educator Mme Traore and her staff at the municipal kindergarten Les Poupons.
- We met and lunched and photographed with a number of musical stars including Habib Koité, Baba Maal, Mangala Camara, and several others whose music we enjoyed at the festival
- Mr Hamidou DEMBELE, dit Diego (Maradonna) former footballer, Somono nommé responsable pour le trafic fluvial : re-organizing the river transport and seeking to reduce the number of accidents and drownings.
- I was asked to be present at a follow-up meeting on Feb. 10, my last day in Segou, with 5 members of the boatman's association who wanted to discuss with Sissoko the need for new leadership, the outcome of the 7 Feb. incident and so the association could formally apologize to me as a representative of the delegation involved. I was moved by directness of the entire process.
- FINAL MEETING with Mayor Ousmane SIMAGA and the four deputy mayors: Madani Moustafa Niang, economy and finance; Nafigué Goita, hygiene and cleanliness and quality of life; Madani Samba Niang, état civile/registration of citizens; Ibrahim Sow, sister city, education, health and culture.