So often we see the world through one set of eyes...our own. During our visit to a Bobo village, I have chosen to describe the experience from the eyes of those who live and breathe the "world" we were entering and observing...the young Bobo villagers.
After you stopped to visit our elders, you came to the youth house. This is where all our brothers live if they are less than eighteen years old. There are about twenty young men there, and they all share in housing duties, such as cooking, cleaning, and washing. You stopped to look at the simple mud-earth house, and gawked as one of our brothers cycled up on his prized bicycle and went into the house. He is one of those who go to school in Djenne and he knows about things like cars and bicycles and electricity.
You also visited our ironsmith's workshop and looked inside at all the materials our artisans use to create tools for the village's use. We followed behind you, giggling at your funny expressions and the clothes you were wearing. The brown woman, Monica, was wearing a cloth that we use as a skirt, but she used it to cover her head! And the white woman, Miranda, had very long white legs that were starting to turn pink because of the sun. We laughed at all of you because you seemed so strange, even though you were smiling and trying to say "Comment ca va?" which our brothers tell us means "how are you" in another language called French, that people far away can speak.
You passed by the area where our young women weave large mats for the whole village to use. You walked through the narrow alleyways of our village, always drinking from the clear bottles you all held, filled with water that wasn't brown like the water in our Bani River.
You stayed for a small while outside the store where our mothers sit in the heat of the day, and waited as Camille, the man from Djenne, went inside. Our mothers gave him boiled sweet potato, and a bowl of pounded millet to eat, and you three stayed in the street waiting. In our language, one of our brothers said, "She is Chinese, look at her eyes." This was directed at you, the woman called Monica. We waited to see what you would do. You seemed to notice that we were talking about you, but you just smiled and didn't say anything. We continued to talk about you and the others until Camille emerged from the store with two bags of sweets.
After you looked at the place where we pound our millet every afternoon as a group, and after you looked at the place where we throw our garbage, you looked at our mosque and pointed your little boxes to flash at it. The whole time you were talking amongst yourselves. Sometimes you were pointing at our big, round bellies, and sometimes looking at the ones in our group who have sickness in their eyes or open sores. Otherwise you didn't have anything to say to us, even though we greeted you and smiled at you. The brown woman kept pointing to herself and saying, "Monica." That part we understood, but when we asked her if she was well this morning, if her family was well, and if she was going to buy fish or meat at the market, she just shrugged and smiled. We were trying to be polite, but she did not seem to understand.
After you entered the pirogue and pushed off our shores, we watched you for a little bit, then we went back to the courtyard to play with our spinning tops.
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Monica - Pirogue, a Traditional Boat Ride Up River
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