Dakar – Bamako

A few years ago, I saw a report on television about the Dakar-Bamako railway section. I wanted to make this trip, meet people and live at the African rhythm.

When in 2007, I was invited to the Dakar Biennale, I thought this was the occasion or never to realize this dream. So I naturally  went to Dakar trains station, but no trains. No one knows when the train arrives or when he leaves. Nightmare. After two days of waiting in Dakar, I decided to go to Bamako by bus. Direction Pompier bus station.

As soon as I get off the taxi, I am caught by a man who asks me where I am going? “Bamako! “, I answer him. He grabbed my bag and asked me to follow him. Arrived on a platform, he said to me: “you pay here, it is 25000 Fcfa, we leave in 2 hours!”. It was 11 o’clock. I pay, I settle in the bus and I wait. It is more than 40 ° c in the shade. I’m thirsty, I drizzle with sweat. I wait. I feel like I’m the only one waiting, since all alone in the coach. In fact, regular passengers know that the wait will be long, so settle off the bus and chat to each other. By two hours, the wait turns into six hours. The impatience is felt, the passengers finally begin to groan. While young men load luggage and goods on the bus, the driver pretends to start the bus. The engine stalls, I doubt our departure. A mechanic examines the engine, I hear hammer blows. New attempt to start, we leave soon, it is 19 hours. Invitation to travel, between breakdowns, stops, bus changes, police checks. 3 days of chores  and photos, between morning prayers and tears of children. A solidarity trip.