Festival on the Niger

The Festival on the Niger was first organized in 2005. After an uplifting restoration of Segou a group of hotel owners thought it would be good to promote the town. In 2003 they founded the Association of Hotel owners and Restaurateurs for Tourism in Segou (AHRTS). The president of this association is Mamou Daffé, owner of the Savanne Hotel and married to Dutch woman Liesbeth Daffé. Their goal was and is to contribute to the development and welfare of the tourism in Segou and its region. Liesbeth started a travel agent called Savane Tours, who also organized the tour I did in Mali. The local people are involved with the organization of the festival. Due to its success the festival has already the support of the national government. The first festival attracted over a 1000 people and the second edition in 2006 almost 2000. The festival is held in the first week of February and last for 3 days.

Except promoting the cultural richness of the country like music, dance and art, there are also forums to discuss the problems of the region. In 2005 the theme was about culture and tourism and development. In 2006 the theme was about the decline of the river Niger, in 2007 about poverty and how to solve it, in 2008 was it about using talents to work on development en 2009 the environment and the local knowledge about it. Besides that local artist get the change to promote themselves, but visitors can also participate in workshops. Although most activities take place on an area of the Niger, also some activities are elsewhere in town.

An example of the way people could be helped, we found at the market of the festival. We talked with an organization who tries to help the local people. They have different kind of projects for education, health, economics, environment and social aspects. The call themselves Tanima 2000, called after a small village about 70 kilometer northeast of Bamako. We talked about a recent project of them called 'Akadi'. Most fruits and vegetables are produced during the rainy season, but of course all year around people need food, but sometimes it's hard to conserve the food. The best way is by drying, but for this there is no equipment available. The organization now supplies the locals with big kettles in which the food can be dried with the help of the heat of the sun. Women who want to participate also learn to read and write and how to sell their dried products.

This French organization works on a small scale and does not have a website, but if you are interested you can mail them.

First published: 31 December 2009
Last update: 31 December 2009
© A. Heeroma

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