Where’s my house?
My default belief is if someone can do the sensible thing, they will – but they invariably don’t. As previously recounted, I took my eye off the ball for a couple of hours and the builders started building the house back to front. A simple mistake, but totally illogical – I’ve never seen a local house with the entrance facing the back fence.
This reminded me of a story – I met an English guy in the Gambia who had purchased land and then given money to his Gambian wife to build a house. When he returned from England some months later they went to the land, only to find it empty. “Where’s the house” he asked, presumably with a slight tremble in his voice. “It’s there” she replied, pointing over to a lovely new house on the next door neighbours plot. They are no longer married. It was of course cheaper for him to buy the land than knock down and rebuild a house. I suggested this may have been the wife’s intention and she’d plotted this with the neighbour.
The house that Sugar built
Along with blood, sweat and tears, add a sack of sugar. Like English builders who drink tea or coffee with 3 or 4 spoons of sugar, Senegalese builders won’t do anything without the sweet stuff (not just builders, the entire nation). It’s cheaper to buy in bulk, and Khady bought a 50kg sack of the stuff before we started. Now in the UK, I can hardly remember ever buying sugar – maybe I’d buy a normal sized packet and it would keep me going a year (I don’t take sugar in hot drinks though). Although I understand how much sugar is consumed, I was still amazed that the 50kg sack was finished within about 4 or 5 weeks. There’s a big problem with tooth decay and diabetes here, but nobody seems to understand the link and tell me I’m crazy when I say something.
A week ago I had a bunch of marble sized melons. Within a week, several were the size of tennis balls. And then they split. After consultation with a local expert (Khady’s little brother), it appeared I’d over watered and they’d grown too fast.
On a positive note, the sun flowers have bloomed. And it’s also cashew nut season (the only nut I like) – we have four cashew nut trees and everywhere I look on my land there are piles of them drying in the sun. Usually at sunset, we roast them on the fire. It’s hellish I tell you – hellish.
Faceba works for us at the Little Baobab and has a peculiar way of speaking English. He’s Gambian and Gambian English is funny anyway – a mix of English that would have spoken in colonial times and, for the younger folk at least, modern rap and r n’b slang.
Anyway, I’ve never heard anyone speak like Faceba, who’s in his early twenties – he precedes most sentences with “if I were to tell you”.
A typical exchange may go:
“Simon, if I were to tell you we need some more netting for the fence, what will you do?”
“Hey Faceba, it’s “boily boily today”.
“If I were to say yes, I would not be lying”.
I take this to mean, yes, it’s hot.
As previously discussed, it is traditional for African men to be circumcised and they are not considered real men until this happens. Many traditions are great. Some are not and I’ve always thought the unnecessary lopping off of bits of the body to be of the latter category. And for anyone who says it’s in the Bible or other holy texts – well so are many other things that are ignored – I’ve never understood how people can cherry pick what they want to believe.
Khady’s cousin, Pabi, with whom we have a business, arrived last week looking distraught. He has a son of the same age as Gulliver. The baby had been circumcised by a proper doctor, but bled profusely and now the wound was infected. A week later, he’s still in hospital and it is touch and go whether he will survive.
My Birthday suit
Khady bought me a new costume suit for my birthday, which in Abene fashion, arrived yesterday (about 6 weeks after said birthday). I’m fond of it, although I can’t see me wearing it back in England – unless my career takes an even odder curve to the left and I become a children’s entertainer, or perhaps play flute whilst leading rats.
Here is a link to a magazine article about drumming in Abene, featuring photos by myself. It was published in the inflight magazine of the Belgian national airlines.
Click on the picture to see the article (and read the rest of the magazine if you’re really keen!)
Gulliver’s a lucky lad, living on a building site and amongst loads of forest and animals. Here he is with our new ducklings and a monkey:
Here’s our house in the Wet season and the dry season:
And finally… hot…and cold…