Monday, January 18, 2016

Neighbourhood Victory.

Over the last few months we have had to contend with a very annoying problem. There is a swarm of goats that are sweeping through the  neighbourhood every day, destroying people’s vegetable gardens  and munching through every green thing. When I first noticed the problem Boubakar told me that the goats are owned by a neighbouring family.  I was saddened to see that our young mango tree on the new land had died: the tree had already reached twice the size of a man and would probably have given its first fruits this coming rainy season. Instead its bark had been gnawed off by the  goats and this had killed it. I was incensed and asked Boubakar to take me to the offending family . 

We walked around there straight away and I confronted a large middle aged lady pounding millet in the court yard. “Your goats are destroying my garden” I began defiantly. “You had better find a little boy to take them into the bush to feed rather than letting them loose on the neighbourhood’s vegetable and fruit plantations!” The lady smiled  in a conciliatory but unconvincing manner  and agreed that it was of course quite wrong and very bad that the goats were allowed to wander freely. 

However, nothing changed, instead it went from bad to worse. The little scavengers actually entered into Petit Bandit’s stable and were  munching away at his millet every evening at night fall (he didn’t seem to mind unfortunately). At this point I decided that enough was enough. “We are going to have to catch the little pests”, I announced to the staff. When you have caught one we will tie it up in the garden and the owners will have to come and pay us for its release. How much do you think they should pay?” This was received with enthusiasm by the staff who decided it should be 5000FCFA (c.E8 )- really quite a large sum here. They have all been rushing around for days trying to catch one, and tonight finally they led the mother of the goats triumphantly to the hotel back garden where we tied her up according to plan. She was bleating furiously and all her off-spring were bleating on the other side of the mud fence in our neighbour’s garden. He was as annoyed as everyone else with this goat situation and promptly threw some stones at the little brats.  I told him what we had done and he was thrilled and laughed aloud with approval and delight. Then Andrea and I had a drink on the sunset terrace and waited for the arrival of the owner. We did not have to wait for long. Soon the neighbour turned up- the husband of the woman I had spoken too a couple of weeks ago.  I asked Kassim the night watchman to take him to the new land and show him the damaged caused by the goats, and when they came back I was ready for a fight and told him defiantly that he would not be able to pick up the  goat until he paid five thousand francs; and if it was repeated the next time it would cost him ten thousand francs. 

But lo and behold, he was not intending to contest it. He said meekly that he would be back with the money shortly, and indeed he did return and paid! Maman and Al Hadj who caught the goat were thrilled and they will share the money. The story is spreading like wild fire  around here this evening and everyone thinks we are the heroes of the neighbourhood  says Kassim the night watchman who just brought us le premier, the sweet Malian tea.


Blogger David said...

Is there no end to your resourcefulness - or, indeed, to the new situations which keep enriching the blog?

That said, will they keep the goats under control now?

10:18 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Well, if they won't keep them in control it will be 'a nice little earner', with the price of release doubling every time, yes?

2:46 PM  
Blogger Laurent said...

How about goat on the spit. I would have invited the goat owner to dinner. Delicious goat don't you think.

11:03 AM  
Blogger mary said...

Moral of the story may be to put a lovely bamboo guard around all trees when they are planted.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Andy Rayner said...

Will share this story with our drip irrigated vegetable garden ladies here in Sikasso. Your solution is kinder than mine. Goat kabobs are tasty.

2:26 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Ah, Mary, if it was only that easy... We have tried everything but the little pests get through somehow. And Andy, I am not at all kind when it comes to this I can assure you! if it continues I will contact you for your Goat Kabob recipy!

3:36 PM  

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