Brigo is a small and rich region of Mali, south and west of the small city of Kita on the Guinea border. Many families and tribes here are Fulani: Sidibe, Diallo, Sangare and Djakite. Its hills roll and are spattered with sharp, black and red rock rises that help to judge distance and demarcate tribal, traditional and village plots.
Herdsmen and subsistence farmers, the Brigo people are in constant tango with nature and the many changes occurring now and over the past decades. Due to the poor road system both left by and poorly maintained by the French and Malian governments, most people in this region, especially women, have never left… not even to Kita.
I hope I don’t dwell on the dog fights, the unnecessary deaths, the whippings and beatings, the treatment of women, the excision of young girls, the slavery, the ugliness, the filth.
I hope when I’m home, cozy on a couch with Ryan, Fisher playing at our feet, I remember the smells. The ways that a warm breeze could move me to tears by wicking the sweat from my brow. The soil, soft and sifted and silky, and water’s drastic effect on it. The smiles received and given; toothless and terrific. The funny handshakes and boob grabs and the horrendous and hardworking feet. The slew of one-eye’s men, the blanket of stars that settle on you at night, the cool mornings, the call to prayer, the incessant sound of termites and their snow-like work falling from my ceiling. The perfect peanut butter, the shiny smell of a freshly cleaned baby.