The Cowboy’s Christmas in Mali


The cowboy has been to Paris and Bamako.

Now, it’s off to the village of Faladye to spend Christmas Day with their friend Raymond’s family. It’s an eight hour trek in the old VW Beetle over non-existent trails. They arrive hot and dusty and are immediately offered a pail of heated water.  They bathe behind the mud wall that partitions the corner of the compound for that purpose. They hang their towels over the wall and find tiny rock projections to hold the soap and shampoo. Never has a bath felt so good.

The children are enamored with the cowboy. The adults too, but they watch him with more discretion  During the long hot hours of Christmas Day the cowboy entertains the children showing off his roping skills. He uses the huge mortar and pestle sitting in the center of the compound for their target.

The cowboy demonstrates and the children take turns trying to rope the mortar. When the boys tire of the practice the girl shyly indicates that she wants to try. She’s obviously been watching closely for she coils the rope exactly as the cowboy did and lassos the mortar on her first try.

Cowboy's lasso

Not satisfied with a non-moving object the boys want to lasso each other. The cowboy is afraid they’ll give each other rope burns so he plays the role of the bull, holding his fingers up by his head indicating horns, pawing the ground with one of his booted feet and bellowing like a bull.

The kids roll on the ground laughing. The cowboy continues his charade. Soon the compound fills with children, and then women from other families arrive followed by the men. They all believe the village chief has bought a new bull.

Two months later, Raymond is again visiting his family. The talk of the village is all about the “red bull.” And so the Canadian cowboy goes down in African oral history.



6 comments on “The Cowboy’s Christmas in Mali

  1. Pingback: The Mali I love – as it was then | EMANDYVES

  2. Pingback: The Cowboy, the Princess, and the Russian | EMANDYVES

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