Saturday, April 02, 2011

I am stuck in a meeting about municipal waste disposal.

My friend Levy, sitting to my right, tells me it would be most impolite to leave and everyone would notice (I am of course the only toubab here). The problem is my Bambara is not good enough to follow the speeches. I have a good idea what is being said though.
Djenne is a beautiful town but it is filthy. Now and then, encouraged by various projects with funding from the European Community, Unesco and similar bodies the inhabitants of Djenné get together and talk about cleaning up the town. This time the pleasantly produced invitation read:
Les Causeries du Fleuve’: les Djennenkés parlent de l’assainissement de leur ville’, suggesting a café society get-together on the left banks of the Seine perhaps.
Unfortunately this impression of intellectual gentility was somewhat spoiled by the fact that one was compelled to circumnavigate 2 rotting cow carcasses in order to reach the meeting place at the side of the river.

I am stuck, as I said. I don’t understand much of the proceedings apart from the frequent appearance of fashionable French words such as assainissement and sensibilisation, the latter much used in Djenné, meaning awareness making and implying that the people present know something the rest of the population don’t know. ‘Sensibilisation’ is the method with which the enlightened persons will reach the unenlightened ones.


Post a Comment

<< Home