The Generosity Of West Africans. A Fish For The Rich Guys

Why should the rich guys get free fish?

Here is a story for my Ivory Coast years.  Stumbled across it in my journal from 1996. We lived in Abengourou,  about 220 km North East of the capital city of Abidjan.

I’ve experienced the Extreme Generosity of the Poor in West Africa often.

“Once again, a friend and I decided to try a little fishing on our day off. So on Monday evening we went to the local reservoir outside our town of Abengourou, in Ivory Coast, West Africa. We had already done the same thing several Mondays in a row, each time coming home with empty hands but good laughs.

This time however, Milton said he had the secret bait; he finally found a set of ” Flying Lures” that he saw advertised on TV while in Alabama on home leave. He ordered them and brought them with him to Ivory Coast. So off we went with the “Flying Lures”, confident that this fishing trip will be a success. However, even with the secret weapon, we still caught nothing. I tormented my friend unmercifully about his “sure shot” bait that took him for only $19.95, plus an exorbitant shipping and handling fee.

A local fisherman came paddling by in his dugout canoe, having fished his nets for the day. He asked how we were doing, and how many fish we caught. We reluctantly admitted we had none at all, and admitted that we never did catch a fish any time we came. He commented how he noticed us fishing here other times.  We asked him what he used for bait and he told us about his preferred baits.

However, this poor man then grabs a fish out of his boat and throws it to us. It was a dandy sized carp too. We had to accept it as to turn the gift fish down would have been very rude.

That fish in the market would have been worth 1500 cfa, and that represents a full day’s wage or two here. This poor fisherman gives us two rather rich strangers (according to them) a gift of  his days wage.

Humbling isn’t it not?

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