Malian Picnic with Salif Keita, Live

A portrait from Mali

Our weekly “À Table”dinner series gets its name from the mealtime call to the dining table. Since 2018, we have invited friends new and old to share a meal focusing on food, music and traditions from various places in the Francophone world. It has proved to be a fun way to connect with friends and practice our spoken French. Here on our site, we share portraits of some of our favorite meals so that you can easily do a version of the same chez vous Bon Appétit!

When the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn lineup came out in May, and the kids and I did our annual listening party, Salif Keita won out as our new favorite.  The more we got to know him, his country and his cause, we decided not only to make it a pop-up picnic, but a fundraiser.  Below you’ll find everything you need to do the same.


La Difference

This time, we begin with a song, because it serves as a great intro to both Salif Keita and his cause: “the fair treatment and social integration of persons with albinism.”  The name of the song is La Difference.  It’s a beautiful tune even if you don’t know French… but then when you see the translation of the lyrics below, you’ll see why it’s an even more poignant song.

His foundation site is full of information about the work his foundation does, and all the reasons his work is so crucial, and important ways you can help.  But first, his beautiful singing of his heartfelt song, enter your ears and your heart.


Lyrics: La Difference

La Difference (The Difference)

by Saif Keita

Je suis un noir
I am a black

Ma peau est blanche
My skin is white

Et moi j’aime bien ça
And I like that

C’est La Différence qui est jolie
It’s the difference that is pretty

Je suis un blanc
I am a white

Mon sang est noir
My blood is black

Et moi j’adore ça
And I love it

C’est La Différence qui est jolie
It’s the difference that is pretty

Je voudrais
I would like

Que nous nous entendions dans l’amour
That we get along in love

Que nous nous comprenions dans l’amour et dans la paix – x2
That we understand each other in love and in peace – x2

La vie sera belle – x3
Life will be beautiful

Chacun à son tour aura son amour
Each in turn will have his love

La vie sera belle – x3
Life will be beautiful – x3

Chacun dans l’honneur
Everyone in the honor

Aura son bonheur
Will have his happiness

La vie sera belle
Life will be beautiful

Dô finai bai
Dô djélè
Dô kagni
Dô magni
O bai yé color kaon ka gnyoro dafa
O bai yé couleur kaon ka gnyoro dafa
Ny y
Ny y…


Pop-up Picnic

Having falling hard for Salif, his music and his good work, I wanted not only to make a Malian picnic to enhance the experience of his live show for my family and friends, but we also wanted to make it a fundraiser.

Pop-up picnic and mailian food for salif keita live show

While I was awaiting a response from the Salif Keita foundation about what kind of food Salif would suggest for a picnic to touch our hands, taste buds and bellies as well as our ears, eyes, hearts and dancing bodies, I continued some research on foods of Mali.  My googling landed me on the Mali Rising Foundation, and so I reached out to them, too.  I couldn’t help but want to help support their work as well, so Cultures Capsules donated the food, and friends donated for a taste of the food, to the cause of their choice.

So that you may also make this a fundraiser, we’ve included everything you need to do so.

  • The recipes we chose and why are included on the taste tabs,
  • A free Spotify playlist of Salif’s music, as well as a live video.
  • Free print-outs about both foundations noted here as well Mali itself, to help you if you decide to do a fundraiser as well.


Salif Keita

The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Salif Keita concert in Prospect Park on 13July19.

Enjoy a free Spotify playlist of our fav Salif Keita songs:



Here also you can have a peek at a 2018 live show, thanks to Culturebox,:


Poulet Yassa

A big thank you to both the Salif Keita Foundation and the Mali Rising Foundation for help in sorting the menu for the picnic!

According to Coumba Makalou, the Executive Director at the Salif Keita Foundation, two of Salif’s favorite foods are “Le To Sauce Gombos,” (okra stew with millet/corn flour dumplings) and “Mafe” (peanut sauce).

And Merrit Frey, the Executive Director of the Mali Rising foundation also helped me think through what other typical Malian food might be good for a picnic: “Poulet Yassa” a stew with chicken.  Merrit also mentioned that for a picnic, we could opt to eat the Yassa with french bread (and baguettes are plentiful in our part of Brooklyn, so that was easy), as some Malians of means may do, as a hold over from French colonization.  You can also read about her Malian dinner party here.

Everyone loved it. I had doubled both of the below recipes intending to let many taste it, but it was completely finished it in a matter of minutes. Next time I’ll have to quadruple it!  In fact, making a batch that large that would be typical in Mali, where extended family all lives together, and one married woman in the clan would be responsible for cooking for everyone on given day.

The recipes included here are inspired by the above links but reflect my more than doubling the recipe, adding measurements for the ingredients (1 onion can vary wildly in size in various parts of the globe).

malian picnic of poulet yassa and to sauce au gombos
empty bowls at the end of the night prove that the malian picnic food was delicious poulet yassa and to sauce au gombos


Gombos Sauce


Fundraising & Mali Info

Print the file below to make your picnic or dinner a fundraiser! It contains the flyers we made about both foundations as well as fun facts about Mali, and a map of Africa.

We were so proud of these kiddos (2 of mine plus a friend) who were the first to reuse the fundraising materials the very next weekend. 

It was an extremely hot day, and on their own accord, they decided to setup this fundraiser lemonade + snack stand, on a nearby sidewalk in Brooklyn. 

Passers by were impressed that they made two kinds of lemonade from scratch, and also had lots of homemade snacks: a few different kinds of slice and bake cookies we had stashed in the freezer, as well as fresh banana muffins and cinnamon rolls we had happened to make that day.

They were proud that they raised $68.81 for the Mali Rising foundation, and $35 for the Salif Keita Foundation (and so was I).


Time Lapse

Lastly, check back soon for a time lapse video of the cooking process for both the Le To Sauce Gombos and the Poulet Yassa, while the music of Salif Keita helped it along, from the speakers.