Marseille… what to say?! When we left Lyon the sun showed up for the first time since we left Stockholm. And when we stopped on the road we realized that the climate was finally changing to a t-shirt one. When approaching the outskirts of Marseille there was an excitement in the car. Not even half way to Dakar and we had already found a city that we all felt was very much like the Senegalese capital. We just didn’t stop saying “This is exactly as Dakar”. The city showed up a very different architecture from other French cities and an incredible mix of people of different orginis everywhere. We were very excited to hear how this would influence the mentality and the attitudes towards the meeting of people of different origins. Also, Marseille is a crossroad of people, origins and ways of living since thousands of years. Would it mean more openness towards meetings and differences?
After having checked in at the hotel we were all starving and decided to get something to eat. Just a few blocks behind the hotel we passed an Ivorian restaurant. That was where our wonderful night in Marseille started. By coincidence and through human meetings just as much events during this trip! Just by standing in front of the Ivorian restaurant, the owner called Mama Africa, came out and said that it was the African restaurant the most frequently covered in media. Sousou and Karin went in while Maher and Malang continued walking in search for a more “Senegalese” restaurant. They soon had to come back. We had wonderful grilled fish with aloko and attieké (Karin and Sousou) and Thieboudieund (Maher and Malang…). Mama Africa turned out to be one of those knowing everyone in the town (and she was proud about it). When Maher just asked her if she didn’t have Ba Cissoko’s number she came back with her phonebook so full of numbers that it almost fell apart. Ba Cissoko turned out to be in town and as he lived just nearby Mama Africa’s place, he immediately came by. We then spent the night in his company discovering some parts of Marseille, playing music at Mama Africa’s and at Ba Cissoko’s favourite bar and trying koras in Ba’s apartment. This was really an amazing and inspiring night with lots of jam sessions, discussions and interviews. Everyone without exception immediately referred to a Marseille as a place where people are used to living together and are not afraid of meetings between people of different origins. People identified with the “Marseille spirit” more than with a particular country or sub cultural group. Marseille a Sunday night – so alive with all the people in the streets and so creative with all the graffiti on the walls and musicians playing everywhere!
All of us left Marseille feeling that we will definitely be back! And Sousou and Maher have one more reason to do so after having left Sousou’s kora at Ba Cissoko’s place after having bought one of his “travel koras”. More space in the car to welcome our fifth team member Peter on board in Barcelona!
P.S When asking us who did what in the team, Mama Africa also granted Karin with an official title “For her I don’t need to ask – It is evident that she is the communicator! “