Speaker for 4th December 2018

Probus President Des Moore alongside Canon John McKegney.

Coleraine Probus on the road to Mali, in 2002

For the last Probus speaker's meeting of 2018, club member John McKegney took up the challenge and gave a fascinating account of his “Journey to Mali”

In 2002 John visited the Republic of Mali under the auspices of Christian Aid. Mali is a land locked state, formerly a French colony, which is the eighth largest country in Africa and the fourth poorest. The more familiar city is probably Timbuktu. The Christian Aid headquarters is located in the capital city Bamako and works with local people to ensure that finances are directed to the point of need.

Mali is a predominantly Muslim country with a small Christian community but no Anglican Church. Sunday worship was held in the Roman Catholic Church.

Leaving Bamako John and his team embarked on the long journey northwards to Bandiagara and the cotton and onion growing districts enduring along the way a river crossing and primitive road systems. The mini bus driver’s devotion to regular prayer along the way impressed John.

The group met with local leaders always in the shade of a tree. There was a council chamber with a four foot high ceiling apparently designed to maintain local political order. John’s riveting presentation outlined C. A’s work in the area, building a dam to assist in the onion production.

The workers lived one mile from the onion fields at a World Heritage Site in houses carved out of a rock face at the bottom of a 200 foot escarpment resulting in a hazardous journey to and from work. The hospital and medical centre run by Nuns where patients would often walk for six hours to reach the centre.

The worlds largest sand castle turned out to be the Mosque at Djenne. The remarkable hospitality shown by the locals, the gift of a chicken and the unusual tea ceremony as well as Toe, the delicacy that looked a bit like porridge all resulted in a humbling experience.

Before leaving Mali John and the Group returned to Bamako to meet the Archbishop, Representatives of the Evangelical Church and the Muslim Council. It was an evocative trip that endorsed the C.A.’s motto of “Believing in life before death”.

*with many thanks to Graham for the write-up, again, this week

For more information about Mali, 'Click' the flag below, (this will open in a new window)