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In Memory of Boukary Konate

I saw this picture while reading Boubacar Sangaré’s moving tribute to Boukary. I remember when I first saw the image on Boukary’s blog, Quand le Village se Reveille. It is the perfect picture of him, at peace in the village, learning and discovering things that some have forgotten and many have never known.

Boukary left us on Sunday. After he returned from Tunis, we knew there was no longer a medical solution. We hoped and prayed for a miracle that didn’t come. His passing is devastating for Boukary’s family and all of us that knew him personally. It is also an enormous loss for Mali and the rest of the world.

In this beautiful tribute, Renaud Gaudin speaks of the one-way movement from the village to the city. As Renaud notes, Boukary followed this path, but his migration was not permanent. He always remained in the orbit of the village.

Boukary was endlessly curious about the wisdom bound up in centuries of cultural practice in Mali’s rural areas, and he was generous enough to share what he discovered with us. Boukary taught us Bamanankan, a language whose depths are rarely explored. One ostensibly simple phrase in Bamanankan could delight him for hours. Of course, the phrase was never simple, and Boukary loved nothing more than to explain all the fascinating detail behind its meaning and origin.

Boukary labored to create open lines of communication between the village and the city. He knew that Bamakois could benefit from rural wisdom, and he knew that the villages could benefit from increased access to technology. He promoted the use of a Bamanankan keyboard and trained villageois so that they could tell their stories online. He embraced technology in order to preserve and share the things that technology was supposedly erasing.

Boukary was a teacher in the truest sense. He worked full time at the Education Ministry and traveled to the villages in his spare time. He was always balancing multiple projects. Any normal person would find this schedule exhausting, but it energized Boukary. It was the life he wanted, the life he would have continued. Always learning something new, and always sharing it with all of us.

Boukary, we mourn your passing and celebrate your life and all you accomplished. I know that you are in the village now, and you are truly at peace. Allah ka hinɛ i la.

Here are some memories and tributes shared by others :

In addition to posts written by Boubacar and Renaud, here is one by fellow blogger Fatouma Harbert.

Hommage à notre Observateur Boukary Konaté, grand défenseur de la culture malienne from France 24.

Here’s Boukary on his favorite day of the year, “Mother Language Day” in Bamako, 2012.

When the association of Malian bloggers was just beginning. That’s me, Faty Harbert, Boubacar Sangaré, Michel Thera and Boukary Konate (thanks to Claire Ulrich, who helped me to no end when we were trying to navigate Boukary’s medical condition and who sent me this photo of that special day at the sleeping camel).

Rest in peace, Boukary.

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Janet September 20, 2017, 4:39 pm

    Please accept my condolences for the loss of your friend Boukary. He sounds like a very special person. It was nice to read of someone who was actively trying to make the world a better place. May he rest in peace.

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