Coming into southwest Mali across the Guinea border, I discovered two old people, sick and alone in a shack. Naturally I stayed and tried to help, but the situation wasn’t all it appeared and I found myself facing a terrifying spectre with an enigmatic sorcerer whose primary role was most unpleasant.
Returning the two old people to their village brought me face to face with another sorcerer who had trouble with the spirits in a grove of wild orange trees, leaving the fruit unusable to the community.
A thousand miles away in Dahomey, I encountered a different sorcerer under whose hand I was drawn into exciting and bizarre village events, when all I had come to do was to sort out a water filtration problem for two ladies wanting to start a commercial laundry. In the end, what was to have been a two day visit lasted almost three weeks, and I saw village life from the inside.
The community at Dogbo-Itémé also produced soap and watching them do this provided an idea which might make the oranges in Mali useful, but first it was necessary to solve the problem of the spirits. This required the intervention of a Devil from far away Liberia, and some unusual ritual dancing.
With the spirits released from their bondage, the mechanical ingenuity of the engineer who serviced my aeroplane, and a man from Paris who came to consider what we might do with the orange peel, came up with an unexpected result.
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