I would not exaggerate if I said that I got a few warning about travelling to Malis capital Bamako. During 2014 many argued (mostly from abroad) that the city was possibly the only safe heaven in the country. But then came 2015 and no less than 3 acts of terrorism struck the city.
So when I got here I expected to be greeted by a city where many lived in fear. The realty could nog have been any more different. I live in a poor neighborhood were people find their entertainment among them self or at a local place. Many of the people who lives in my neighborhood has probably never set their foot inside the Radisson Blu Hotel (who were stormed by insurgents last November), neither at the uptown nightclub were a man started shooting in May last year.
Of course, these are horrible acts and it must have been terrifying for everyone who happened to be at these places. But the threat of terrorism does not seem to concern the majority of the population. For them “life have to go on”, and the daily struggle continues. (Mali is ranked 179 on UNDP:s development index. Syria is ranked 134)
What I have found is a city that feels safer than central Stockholm or London, despite poverty and lack of street lights. People are in general very friendly and go to great effort to help you to the best of their ability. As a journalist who doesn´t speak French or Bambara this makes a world of difference.
So from now on culture will be brought into my safety evaluation.
Sidenote: The best way to get around Bamako is on a “moto”, in other words: a scooter och small motorcykel. My guide and fixer owns one and we go back and forth around the city to meet people. To make those little trips even more interesting I have started to try to take street pictures while we rush down the streets. I call it “MotoPhoto”.
It takes quick reflexes, a good eye, a lot of luck and I´m really bad at it. So of the 50 pictures – or so – that I have taken, this one (the one above) is the only one I like so far. I think it shows the Bamako friendliness quite well, and that the V-sign is quite international.
(I will write these posts quite spontaneous and only quickly look through them. So please have patience with my typos)