September 2, 2004
You'll need to ask a taxi to take you to the market. Once there, plunge into the covered market past the fetish stalls, the ironmongery and look for the materials area. Here you will find a small selection of 'shops' selling hand-dyed material in a wide variety of colours. Rest your feet and sit down for a while and look through the materials. You are bound to find something you like. The packets you will be shown contain two long pieces of cloth. Expect to pay between 8-10,000 cfa (about $20) per packet. They are intended to be made into a long overdress and a wrap round skirt and headscarf. But they make wonderful tablecloths. When you get them home rinse them in water containing about a cupful of vinegar and let them dry naturally. This will 'set' the dye and keep the colour. Afterwards wash and iron normally. The material is really stiff to begin with but with washing it softens. The people who sell you the material are probably part of a family group who buy the material white and dye it themselves. By buying the material you are helping the local economy and encouraging a Malian enterprise.
From journal Bamako, the friendly city