A Sheep and Mango Christmas

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“Did you realize there was a live sheep in the trunk?” That’s a question I never, in my right mind, thought I would ever ask someone but alas, the man sharing a taxi with me and another MFC intern proved me wrong. There are sheep everywhere. Dozens lie on top of buses. Others sit, tied to a pole while counting down their last days. Most people in Mali are muslim and therefore, preparing for the “fête de tabaski” where they will sacrifice a sheep in large families to celebrate the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make for Allah.

A colleague has invited me to spend this holiday with him and his family and I told him it would be an honour to join them. I guess you could say that the turkey is going to look (and taste) a little different this year…

It has been the first sign that the holidays are coming. No Santa Claus paraphernalia at every street corner. No decorations coming out November 1st. And certainly no pressure to empty bank accounts on scented candles and power tools. In fact, the thought of the holidays hadn’t even crossed my mind until last week when I got an email from my parents asking me what I wanted for Christmas. Would it be too much to ask for every child in Mali to get an education and a full stomach?


Working Hard (and definitely not Hardly Working)

Things at MFC Nyetaa (Mali Folkecenter) are rolling along at an incredible pace. Recently I witnessed a historic moment in the village of Garalo. For the first time, the electric power was generated from both vegetable and jatropha oil in what has become the largest bio-fuel electrification project in Africa (to our knowledge). The 100 kW generator – one of three at the power house – that feeds electricity into over 170 homes, provides light, refrigeration and security to over 4,700 people.

MFC Nyetaa is working in a new environment of competition where communication becomes as crucial to the success of the project (and organisation) as the jatropha seeds. I’m calling out for help to all the readers with any connection to newsletter networks, magazines, newspapers or perhaps even, Santa Claus. What better communication strategy than to have jatropha seeds as stocking stuffers this year? On that note, why stop there? Let’s get Jatropha plants as Christmas trees! The point is that there are revolutionary things happening here and people need to know about them.

In the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I will also say that each and everyone of you should consider making a donation to the Sowing A Seed in Sierra Leone project on behalf of your brother, sister, father, mother, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece, grandfather, grandmother, pet giraffe, butcher, local 7-11 clerk, ballet teacher (I’m looking your way Mike), local yodeling group and/or step-(all of the above).

My turkey may taste more like sheep and my Christmas tree may be growing mangoes this year, but my thoughts will still be with all of the extended One Sky family. Sambè-Sambè! Joyeuses fêtes à tous!

If you have any good contacts that would be interested in an article on MFC Nyetaa’s jatropha project, or happen to be Editor-in-Chief of any major national newspapers, you can email me at


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