We finally made it to Bamako in Mali this afternoon after hours of driving. The fact that we had camped out in the desert on the outskirts of Mopti didn't help. We were all in need of a bath, sleep, food and air conditioning. It's ridiculously hot that I have begun to have a greater sense of appreciation for my humid tropical region of Nigeria with its pelting raindrops, sinking islands and encroaching ocean. I'll take that any day so long as I have a raft for dooms day. But let me back track a bit here. We left Accra for Kumasi and spent two days there talking and meeting with members of the Nigerian community. Some of them were from the northern region, which as you know is affected by desert encroachment. However there were also a lot of the from Ogbomosho. We visited the Asante Kingdom Palace museum and met with some professors and the dean of environmental sciences at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology. Friday was my birthday and I must say I consider this trip is the best birthday gift yet. I say yet because I have not gone round for collection and I am hoping my potential gift givers read this to know they have their work cut out for them. Meanwhile, I got a pleasant surprise from Papa Jibs and the crew when they presented me with a signed card and a birthday cake. The cake has now been smashed and will serve as peace meal when we run into Touregs in the desert. I hope they like vanilla.
From Kumasi we drove up into Burkina Faso. That also took hours. Thank goodness I am not driving since I don't have an international drivers license. Although I kinda feel bad that I can't help in that department. We spent the early morning talking with local farmers and doing some on air hypes and interviews in pidgin-french (bad french) on the community farmers radio. And for the very first time the Burkinabes had the pleasure of hearing TY Bello's Greenland over their airwaves. I wonder if there'll be a french version (hint, hint). Anyways, Bamako is so hot that the motel stewards are putting us in a 3rd room, where hopefully, the AC would actually work and cool the room. I know I cannot be a diva by any means but considering that I had to sleep inside the car with one eye closed and the other opened and sat in a car for over 8 hours in full view of the desert sun (translation: the AC may have been on full blast but it was not reaching me), the least I can get is a cool room to sleep in. Think about it...it's about 85 F degrees now at midnight. You can imagine how hot it was today. Let me help you 110 F degrees or there about. Well we head for Senegal on Tuesday. Plans might change because the plan was to drive up to Timbouktu and Gao in Central Mali. As I see it, I secretly cannot wait to get to Dakar so I can fly back to Lagos. Not just to get away from the heat but because I am in a wedding. Lol. After this trip I swear I shall never complain about Lagos being hot.