Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Paris to Bamako

My cell phone rang at about 7am.  It was my teacher (Dembele) calling to tell me he was already at his office and was waiting for me.  "There is a lot of work to do," he said and hung up the phone.  I got a cup of coffee,  cleaned up, and headed downtown. Dembele was waiting for me when I arrived.  After we greeted we took a stroll out of the compound thatdodged busses, mopeds, and people as we wandered down into the central market.  We arrived at a wire transfer station, where Dembele received money that had been sent to him from a client in Paris.  She had sent 60,000cfa to aid my teacher in consulting the sands and preparing power objects to effect change in her life.  Apparently, she was estranged from her husband of 20 years.  There was another woman in his life.  She, my teacher explained to me, needed to be "taken care of."  We walked back to my teacher's office as he filled me in on the almost soap opera like tale of Madeline, his client in Paris. He had worked with her for years; sending him money just about every other month.  When we got back to his office we took a short break for tea and then made our way via taxi to the livestock market.  Dembele was greeted by a young man when we arrived.  His name was Diallo and he was expecting Dembele.  He guided us into the market to his brothers who sold goats and sheep.  Dembele was on a mission, he described to the brothers what he sought; one red and white female goat and one black and white male goat.  The brothers then went to work pulling out and presenting Dembele with his options.  Dembele looked over the goats commenting, "these are too young and those are too skinny."  It took some time but Dembele eventually selected a pair, a price was then determined: 30,000cfa.  The goats were trussed up with rope and taken to the waiting taxi and unceremoniously dumped in the trunk for us to take back to Dembele's office.  

Once we had returned to his office, Dembele explained to me that the red and white female goat was to be sacrificed for Madeline, while the black and white male goat was to be sacrificed for another one of his clients, a man that I had met several times, Keita.  Both required a goat, "male for male, female for female."  The female goat was to be first.  Dembele prepared the sands and then brought the female goat to stand over them. 
 He took off his silver bracelet and hung it on the rope around the goats neck.  Dembele then began reciting the incantations to call forth the spirits to see the offering that was to be made.  Afterwards, the goat was then taken outside around the corner of the building.  Another man, Troure (a devote muslim), performed the coup de grace.  Shortly there after the second goat (the male) was offered in the same manner, with Keita assisting.  His ring was placed on right horn of the goat and he placed his hands on it when Dembele called to the spirits.  The meat of both goats was divided into about 15 piles, which were then given away.  Many of Dembele's friends and clients took a share of the meat.  I was even given a leg.  The only part of the goats that was saved was the right front foreleg of each.  They were brought into the office and placed over the sands.  Dembele then began to prepare "bad magic."  This involved drawing out a set of designs in the blood of the goats that were sacrificed.  Using a bamboo pen, Dembele traced out the symbols and then sprinkled a little sand from his work area onto the scraps of paper.  He then wrapped each foreleg with one of the blood scripts.  "these," he told me as he held each up, "will take care of the other woman and the husband."  He then set the power objects in the corner as we enjoyed another round of tea. Work was not done.  Dembele prepared more power objects using a different set of symbols drawn in goat blood.  These were for Keita.  Each power object required a specific species of wildlife as the key ingredient.  In this instance, leopard and hyena were needed.  These items were acquired from the animal parts market across the street.  Once in hand the power objects were wrapped, one with leopard hide, the other in spotted hyena.  Dembele gave the objects to Keita and then gave instructions on how they were to be worn.  Keita thanked Dembele and gave him 2,000cfa in payment for his services.  

1 comment:

Mary Ann Mimi Mom said...

Okay, Ian, I am leaving a comment. This is not pleasant for me to read, but I know that such things exist. I am happy that this is beneficial to your research, but I find it primitive... Am I just too civilized??? OR what???