Peace Corps Mali, January 1991-March 1993

As a Peace Corps volunteer, I lived in Mali, West Africa for two years.

When people ask what I did in the Peace Corps, I usually say I tried to learn the language and I tried not to cause trouble. I did take a lot of pictures. Mostly I stayed in my home village of Kéléya, about 100 kilometers south of Bamako, the capital.

I also travelled a bit to Northern Mali, home of Mopti, the famous mosque town of Djenné, the Dogon country of Bandiagara, and Timbuktu, where my camera gave out. Thus I have no pictures of subsequent travels to Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco, Spain, France, South Africa, and Lesotho, all of which I visited after completing my Peace Corps service.

Women Working

Aminata and friends in the courtyard
Here is a scene I saw every day: my landlady's family, including her daughter, Aminata Bagayoko (far left) and her friends in the family courtyard, preparing grain -- and the males in the family relaxing under the shade drinking tea


Mortar and Pestle
Mortar and Pestle
From early morning to evening, women pounded millet, corn, rice, leaves, dried fish, and other edible ingredients to make the daily meal. It takes a lot of stamina, patience, and power to pound grain

Woman at the Keleya mill
The alternative to pounding grain by hand. In the larger towns you could bring your grain (usually soaked corn) to the gas powered mill. Here is a woman at the Kéléya mill
Fotigi's household help in the courtyard
My Bambara tutor's helper. Here she is picking through some grains while the chickens peck at the ground


This was a party to celebrate the successful completion of a village development project near Ouellessebougou
This was a party to celebrate the successful completion of a village development project near Ouellessebougou

Family Compounds

Plain courtyard
Villagers in Kéléya and surrounding villages did not have a lot of material goods, but many compounds were neatly swept every day
A courtyard full of thingsOthers were not so tidy


A courtyard with flowers
Here someone in the village planted flowers to brighten the courtyard

Men in Mali

A Malian man


Building a house with adobe bricks
Building a house with dried earth (adobe) bricks

Children in Mali

This boy is dressed in a special overshirt for a circumcision ceremony
This is a special occasion outfit for a circumcision ceremony

Girl carrying a younger girl
Girls help even from a young age. I was continually amazed at how game the children were and how willing they were to work hard with very little material goods as incentives


Northern Mali

I believe this is the market in Mopti
I always enjoyed the energy of a market. Here is the Mopti Market

Djenne street scene
A street scene in Djenné, Mali, where I visited my friend Qani Belul


A mosque in the Bandiagara area A mosque. The trees are stripped of their bark; they don't naturally look like that

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Last updated: March 27, 2012