Photographer's Note

This is the railway station in Bamako. The sign on the Art Nouveau building from colonial days says "Chemin de fer de Dakar au Niger" ("Niger" referring to the river, not the nation).

But what about "my home away from home"? If you look carefully you will find at the right corner of the building a white sign saying "Buffet hotel". That was the entrance to a hotel situated on the top floor of the building, facing the railway tracks.

I spent most of my roughly two weeks in Bamako in February 1982 in this hotel. It was regarded as the best budget hotel in the city. The rooms were okay, and there was a good and not expensive restaurant, but what made this hotel very special was the dance-floor in the garden somewhere behind the lower building.

What the Cavern Club in Liverpool meant for British pop music in the early 1960's (The Beatles... Mersey sound...), the Buffet Hotel de la Gare meant for modern West African music in the 1970's and 1980's. For many years the Super Rail Band de Bamako (now and then slightly changing names) was the regular feature here, playing in the garden several nights a week. Some of West Africa's most legendary singers and musicians started their careers here, like the singers Salif Keita and Mory Kanté (who died recently aged 70) and the guitarists Kante Manfila and Djelimady Tounkara.

It was fun to listen to the Rail Band in the evenings, after dinner, but it was less fun that they kept on playing until 2 AM several nights a week. But their concerts remain among my most special memories from that journey.

As for the railway, built around the turn of the last century, it more or less collapsed after the World Bank pressured the Senegalese and Malian governments to privatize it in 2003. In 2010 the services stopped, but according to Wikipedia a Chinese company signed a contract in 2015 to revive it.

As you already figured out, the photo was scanned from a Kodachrome slide.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12683 W: 572 N: 24294] (103510)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 1982-02-00
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2020-06-06 0:12
  • Favorites: 1 [view]
Viewed: 0
Points: 58
Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12683 W: 572 N: 24294] (103510)
View More Pictures