Fare thee well, Boukary
|Photo courtesy of Suzanne Lehn
He left us much too soon.
Around early 2009, as I was still new on Twitter, I looked for Africa-centric communities and found Global Voices, and then Claire Ulrich, Anna Gueye, and finally Boukary Konaté from Bamako, Mali.
We became quite friendly - albeit online - and I admired his desire to further his own education as well as promote and safeguard Malian culture, and bring the internet to rural areas. A group of his online friends, led by First World Music's Akenataa Hammagaadji, in New York, sent him a solar backpack for that purpose.
Boukary was a teacher in a Bamako high school. He wrote one of the rare blogs in Bambara, in fact one of the rare blogs in any African language in general: Fasokan. The blog won a Bobs (Best of the Blogs) award in 2012.
In 2014, he created a blog and Facebook page called "Quand le Village se réveille" (When the village awakes), that showcased traditions from all around Mali: ceremonies, objects, proverbs, and more. The last post in the blog was in January 2017; on the Facebook page, in June.
When I needed photos for my 2010 blog post on African attire, "Traditional and contemporary dress in Africa," he sent me photos from Mali. I had already written about him earlier on the now defunct site, Sosauce.com.
These past years, we were less often in touch; however, I saw that he appeared to be doing well in his endeavors. And then, I came upon the GoFundMe page (from Phil Paoletta), and discovered the terrible news that he had liver cancer, at first misdiagnosed as an ulcer.
Studies show that liver cancer is one of the leading cancer types in men and women in Sub-Saharan Africa. A silent death sentence that is usually discovered too late. We can only pray that this illness will soon not be taking so many Africans.
Phil raised enough funds to take Boukary to Tunisia for an operation. However, once there, they found out that it was impossible to operate on his liver. Boukary was brought back to Mali, where he passed away shortly after.
He was so sick that he was unable to write anymore; Phil Paoletta wrote, in his name, that he appreciated all that had been done for him, from his friends all over the world.
Here are a few more tributes to Boukary:
From France 24:
À Boukary Konaté (A. Gaudin)