weekend au village
(saturday, may 8th)

I had met Tidiani at the pool in the forest two days earlier and he had implored me not to leave Bobo without witnessing a festival of masks. There was one this coming weekend at a neighboring village to his, and he had invited me to spend the weekend. I postponed my trip to the capital Ougadougou, and prepared to rough it aù village.

Saturday morning we drove 30kms by moped along the tarred road, then the final 12kms along a dirt track to his village: the village of Sangoulema. I would guess about 300 people lived there, without electricity or running water. I wondered how long the battery on my digital camera would last -- there was no chance of a recharge out here!


The village was a rather unkempt, messy collection of mud-brick houses and tin roofs. It was hardly the rural paradise I had been dreaming of, but a realistic window onto the poverty and struggle of african village life.

I slept in his brothers' house (above).

We went 2/3 kms out to the fields to meet his mother and sister. They were working and sleeping out here in the fields.

Tidiani's mother was his father's second wife and had had ten children. Seven had survived. After one son's death, Tidiani became the first son and was clearly aware of his responsibilities. Of all his father's 17 children, Tidiani was the only one they could afford to send to school. The rest stayed to work in the fields and the village.


The whole village seemed to be busy with something while I was there -- from sunrise to sunset -- carrying water, preparing food, pounding maize, forging iron (see the next story: village at work), but I did come across some relaxation (only men though).


It's amazing that they are as fit as they are (well, I guess there's a lot of sickness too) when all they eat is rice or millet or maize with sauce. There seemed to be little meat available.

Little family hamlets dotted the countryside around the village. The larger huts are for the family, while the smaller huts (at right) are for storing food. The little window is actually the only way in and out -- a chore reserved for the tiniest kids. At right, I'm being shown the millet that's stored inside.



Hungry, naked kids scrounged bowls for the last morsels of food.

Most of the kids bellies were quite large, but I wasn't sure if this was malnutrition or just stuffed full of carbohydrates.


Tiny babies, only a few days old, lay cradled in aluminum bowls, while older men sat around surveying the scene and giving Tidiani and myself a hard time. The women remained shy and distant.


Despite the monotonous burden of work, it was a happy, thriving place. But no one seemed happier than these pigs! I love pigs!