I’m home. It’s grey outside. The rain is coming down softly now. From my office window, I can see the brownstones across the street and in the distance I can just make out the outline of the Empire State Building across the borough, and the water. Before I left Bamako yesterday, I bought the last two CDs Ali Farka Toure produced before he passed away last year. I’m listening to his music now and remembering Cheikh’s translation of the lyrics. The songs were about Ali Farka Toure’s childhood in the Timbuktu, where Cheikh was raised as well. Ali Farka Toure was singing the suffering of the people of the desert, Cheikh explained, the suffering that he experienced, too. Sang Ali Farka Toure: When my hunger kept me up all night, I would lie awake, unable to sleep, and count the stars.
I think about these words now as my mind goes back to the hundreds of people I met at Nyeleni, a community five-continents-large of people fighting to ensure that no one, anywhere on our planet lies down at night with an empty stomach, and that everyone, someday, will be able to fall asleep, the stars remaining uncounted.
Image: A village on the road from Nyeleni to Bamako.