Mali, a hauntingly beautiful land on the edge of the Sahara desert, fundamentally changed my perception of Africa, and of human nature. This page was created to share my experiences of almost two decades of learning about this land, from within and without.

The virtue of hospitality is deeply embedded in the Malian mindset, where it is linked to the virtues of dignity, pride and honour – and to the shadow side, to shame. These distinctive cultural features resonate back to the kingdoms of Ghana (750 -1200), Mali (1200-1500) and Songhay (1350-1600).

This set of values is so strong you can virtually smell it and taste it. The mere aroma of the tea evokes a sense of history and the memory of all traces of conversation that lead back to this ceremonial gathering. In Mali, the rituals of hospitality are manifested in the Arabian-inspired tea ceremony – the ultimate social meeting place. This is an arena where elders, youth, men and women gather to chat, hear the latest news and relax. To take part, all you need is care, time and patience. My hope is that this web page will animate ‘virtual’ tea ceremony talks – nurtured by scenes from daily life in Mali and elsewhere in Africa.