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Modern manners

Jeremy Clarke recalls a Christmas Day in Mali and his unfair bargaining position with a pimp

By Jeremy Clarke   January 1998

I once spent Christmas Day sitting on the veranda of a run-down hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali. I was part of a group of package tourists that had set out from Nairobi four months earlier. We were waiting for the train to Dakar, which was our journey’s end.

We were all physically and mentally exhausted. For the past six weeks we had lived almost exclusively on a diet of goat meat, rice and bananas; some of us were recovering from malaria or dysentery. We had been threatened and robbed, stoned and robbed, or merely robbed in every one…

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