The relationship of neighbors is a tricky one. In America, you either hate them or like them or love them. In Mali, neighbor relationships work differently.The neighbor relationship is a sacred one in which neighbors try not to offend each other. In Faladjie, where we live, two events showed the growing support of the neighborhood for Yeah.
The first was a balani that was organized by Nana, our next door neighbor, to raise awareness about the presence of a presidential candidate in the street. A balani is a musical event in which a DJ is hired that plays music so loud that your heart pounds with every beat and your window shakes with every speaker tremor. Balani is a strain of Malian Coupé Décalé with little guitar, fast percussion and melodies played on the Balafon (Malian xylophone). Coupé-Décalé is a music style featuring mostly African instruments, deep bass, and repetitive arrangements. Music affects the very heart of Malian culture and is every bit important here as the busy social life. I remember my first balani two years ago. It was a very special event that was put on by Yeah’s family in Ouelessebougou to celebrate my arrival in the village.
This youtube video truly captures what the balani is all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaiWl9Yz2uc
The Samake2012 balani was set to start at 5pm but like all good Malian parties started at 9pm. The music blaring invited the youth from ours and surrounding streets to see what all the noise was about. The youth put on several dances throughout the night rapping about PACP and Yeah. The DJ described Yeah’s efforts and the dream that Mali would be free of poverty and corruption if they elected a young leader who had the capacity to bring change. It was an awesome night!! Good heart thumping music, great message and a wonderful support from neighbors.
The balani gave rise to an informal meeting by the youth of the street who asked Yeah to come speak to them so they could see how to best help the campaign. It also provided an opportunity to Yeah to learn what further affects the next generation of Malians. The meeting was a success and provided additional much needed support to Yeah’s already growing campaign.
The political atmosphere is amazing right now. Things move so fast that each day differs in political achievements. PACP is becoming the theme of change and many Malian youth and middle aged individuals are seeing it as their chance for a changed Mali. We were blessed to receive the support of our neighborhood. May their excitement be replicated thousand fold through Mali as the election fast approaches on April 29th.