Finally I got around to putting another update together from my stay here in
I will start telling you a bit about my experiences down here – be they funny, horrible, interesting or maybe even ‘quirky’ (for lack of a better word). As an example of that, have a look at the following photo taken outside of the office of a local medicine man:
Please note that the clinique is "moderne"...
And what about this woman in the background who is selling bugs (the little black things are big, fried larvae) in a jar to cars passing by her village...
Afterwards, I have decided to write some more of my personal ideas as to why
After this we took the girl to a nearby hospital, (oh, I guess I have to add here, that any resemblance to a western-style health establishment was hard to find, except that the doctors wore plastic gloves), where they successfully re-attached the finger and gave the girl the proper inoculations and medicaments, (I off course paid for all of this, to make sure that she would get the proper attention – or get attention at all). We got hold of the girl’s mother, who also arrived.
The whole thing was handled in a calm atmosphere, with no-one blaming us for anything. In fact, the mother was extremely grateful that we had even bothered to stop – much less transport her little girl to hospital… What possibly freaked me out the most was, that the little girl never ushered a word! Not after the accident, not in the car and neither did she cry out when they sowed her finger back on! In fact, the first time that I heard her voice was when her mother called me some days later to tell me, that things were going well with the girl. We have since visited them, and I even have a photo of the little girl:
The girl - called Sarah - with her siblings
The girl - called Sarah - with her siblings
Since this little encounter - where Certain Death for some reason had taken an unscheduled day off - have tried to make a life for myself here in Bobo. People are friendly, things are reasonably quiet and the work is keeping me on my toes for quite a few hours a day. Not much is lost by working late, though, since there really isn’t much to do in the evenings. The only cinema in Bobo closed a few years back, (because the manager forgot to pay for new films and kept all the income from ticket-sales to himself), and it is not like people have been standing in line to show me other great ways to spend an evening in what ‘Lonely Planet’ calls: ‘The most laid-back place of West Africa’. It gets bloody lonely at times, but I guess I’ll survive on a healthy supply of books, DVDs and hours in the hotel gym. The ‘international community’ of Bobo consist mainly of elderly French men with some very young African partners (more about this in later posts), and Anglophones are rarer than precious metals, so it has not been easy finding people one can hang out with in the scarce spare time available. Finding local friends have so far proven next to impossible as well. Men will ask me for money anywhere between the first and fifth sentence they utter, whilst a lot of the young women will offer me sex – and then ask for money. It is so incredibly frustrating to experience, but to be honest, I can’t really say I blame them. The common consensus here is that any white man walking about is either easy prey or a ticket out of one of the poorest countries in the world… Thus, even if I have politely tried to make locals around me understand that I will in no way function as a newfound gold mine, they always come up with an offer of either some “fantastic business opportunity”, a horrible story about a hospitalised relative who urgently needs a lot of money or – a personal favourite of mine – present me with a prescribed list of drugs (incl. prices) needed to avoid dying this very instant - complete with the doctors signature and stamp. Regarding the latter, the biggest problem is that it seems everyone around here has that exact list with the same stamp and signature – all in all amazing that the whole town hasn’t fallen over dead yet…
As a crazy kind of ‘wake-up’-call from all of this reality, a Coca-Cola representative called me from Denmark on (very) early morning to let me know I had won a competition after I had written a few lines giving praise to a colleague on their website a few months back. Very ironically, the price was a bunch of coca colas to the whole of my workplace, so whilst I was sitting in Burkina in 42 degrees Celsius, more than a hundred colleagues in Denmark got visited by the Coca-Cola sampling team, (blondes in very good shape, according to my colleagues in DK), who handed out a bunch of cokes for everyone… Having never won a competition in my whole life, I couldn’t help shake my head a bit over the sense of sarcasm displayed by the Almighty in that respect…
I feel like it’s almost an obligation to include a few lines on the more bizarre things, which one keeps experiencing down here, and this time, I would like to describe how freight trains often are used to transport live animals in
In general, the trains down here should really make one be appreciative of our national rail services back home, no matter which short comings they might have!
As warned in the beginning of this post, I will now fire (another) broadside at some of the problems I see being part of limiting the progress of
I would love to elaborate a bit on all of the different inputs I have been getting regarding how the governments and official offices work in
There may be quite a few negative outbursts in this post, but I have spent some time trying to figure out, why it is, that
“Well, corruption is everywhere, there is no way around it, and that will never change. If I should get a chance of blackmailing someone for money that way, I should certainly take it. The best way would be to become a politician, of course”. This is all described very black-and-white (no pun intended), but the longer one stays in
Another very important factor, I believe, is the lack of legal reformations down here. Most of the legal systems are based on very old English and French laws, dating back to before the colonisation era and definitely not created to be the legal basis for a modern-day society. Thus, everything here is all “red tape”. Bureaucracy is everywhere and unavoidable, thus creating perfect “breeding grounds” for more corruption. It takes forever to create a company, for instance, thus making sure, that very few people actually try to go through the long and expensive process. As the worst example, it takes 2 years of waiting time to register a simple, one-man company in
I know that a lot of these thoughts have probably been worded, discussed or criticised by a lot of smart people (probably with some sort of degree in economics) – after all I cannot be the first person to notice these things, so I hope no-one accuses me of plagiarism. I still believe, however, that there are more reasons as to why ‘status quo’ seems to be the ruling principle of African developments.
Religion plays a part for sure – I would have liked write a broadside against how Islam is being interpreted by some people around here, but a few drawings of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper has put me off doing it in English – that will have to wait.
Rather, I would like to comment a bit on the circular way, Africans view their life. In the Western world, we have always thought in a straight line: We are born, we work our way through life trying to improve it and reach goals and then we die. Down here, everything is part of a big circle. Thus, there is no point in moving forward, because we will all end up back at our point of origin. This thought is so very bizarre for westerners that a lot simply cannot accept it, but down here – it’s the order of the day. The problem with the circular way of life is that nothing changes. The tools used for farming during the last several hundred years are not changed or improved – if they were sufficient for the forefathers, they will suffice today. The general mentality simply doesn’t seem to incorporate general wish to optimize, change and improve – and here lies a big part of the reason as to why