My journey begins in Bamako, which means “the Caymans River” in Bambaras. Even though Bamako isn’t a megalopolis like Dakar or Abidjan yet, I’m still very quickly getting caught up in the city’s energy field. Bamako is about to become the cultural capital of Western Africa and benefits from Mali’s relative political stability. I take advantage of my stopover in Bamako to meet people like Aminata Traoré, the former Minister of Culture who initiated many projects, is the African alter-globalization figure and is among those directly responsible for the city’s glowing growth. Bamako’s hectic rhythm is palpable, sometimes oppressive. In order to leave the city without being stuck in the gigantic traffic jam that paralyses it, I go to the edge of the Niger. The river can be crossed by ferry from Koulikoro, 60 kms away from Bamako. But to go there I have to board on a motorized dugout canoe and cross the Sotuba and Kenié rapids, which is only possible when the river level is high enough.