Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aint No Party Like a Tongo Party

The school in Tongo is finally finished, and we had a big party to celebrate. It was also the last time we would go to Tongo, and I must say we went out with a bang.
We rented a van to transport all the volunteers in the region, and rode down the bumpy dirt road in good spirits.
the ride there




We could see the crowd from the road but had no idea what was waiting for us when we arrived. Suddenly we were thrown into a mass procession with everyone chanting "Baseba, Baseba" (my Malian name).
the procession



mary and kyle make a grand entrance


We spent a good half hour shaking everyone's hands and making our way to our seats.
shaking hands


The area around the school was decked out with flags and crowded with more people than I've ever seen in Tongo.

crowds and flags

flagpole

The crowd included a group of hunters, who welcomed us by shooting off their rifles.

Finally, after the grand entrance, everyone settled down to start the ceremony.






our loyal fans

I gave a speech thanking everyone who worked on the project, and acknowledged our homologues, Mazuru and Adama, who have done so much for us throughout our three years in Mali.




The speech was well received.

hand in the air

The mayor (who actually showed up!) said a few words about education and responsibility.







And a speech was even given by the town "griot" or storyteller.



After the speeches, it was time to party.

dancing with the old women

drummers

gunners

ladies dancing

and more dancing

After all that dancing, it was time for lunch. The week before, Kyle and I had bought 130 kilos(286 pounds) of rice, 200 litres(52 gallons) of peanut oil, 65 kilos(143 pounds) of onions, 500 maggi cubes, 3 kilos(6.6 Pounds) of salt, and a cow (actually the cow was donated by the Chief of Tongo). The menu: Malian fried rice, beans, cow, watermelon.






beans


watermelon

After lunch, we had a glorious photo shoot. We'd made signs to spell out Thank You (I ni che, in Bambara) and planned to get the kids to stand in front of the school and hold the signs. Easier said than done.



"I ni che" spelled wrong - these kids really do need a new school
Finally got it right






The photo shoot went on:
kyle in the crowd

with the chief of Tongo

chief on deck

our amazing homologues



me and maz


the whole Famanta Family


me and the rents


kyle and the fam

alou, the brick press owner

kyle and Ba

who's got guns?


i'm so bored

through the wall
The paint on the school was not quite finished, but they had managed to put on the first coat in time for the ceremony.
the back side




the front side


the porch



the inside




the courtyard
Then it was time to say goodbye.


goodbye jeneba



The women of Tongo had made matching outfits for the ceremony, and I couldn't leave without getting a photo with all of them together.

matching outfits



Then it was really time to say goodbye.



bye bye


Malians don't hug, but we said goodbye to Mariam with one last cross-cultural exchange.


hug



Then we all piled back in the van and drove away into the sunset, our hearts a little heavier.


...



When we got back to Segou, we had another party: the kind that wouldn't have been possible in my muslim village:

pig roast!

5 comments:

agolfaholic said...

Mary! What an accomplishment. I have enjoyed reading your journey and the pictures of the party are G -R -R -E AT! Did you make your dress?? I love it.

Aunt Linda

Anonymous said...

Woop! Woop! End of one era, start of a new one.

-Amy

Nicole said...

Andrew and I are so thrilled to see the finished school! You should be really proud of yourselves for sticking through it and making it happen. Congratulations!

cmcm said...

Mary,

I have been following your blog for a while now. What an amazing story you'll always have to tell others, what an inspiring and wonderful experience!
Many congratulations! I am sure people there will benefit so much from the work you guys have done.

Keep spreading good energies like that!

All the best,

CĂ©lia

Anonymous said...

thanks
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