I was supposed to inspect drip irrigated gardens today, but my jatigi is a politician. I don’t speak politician, so his words are often meaningless to me. He has political ears, so when I speak he just nods his head, out of habit, because nothing is really heard.
I called this morning to see if it was possible do those inspections today, as we arranged. I also need to drop off a few new drip lines to replace a few some rats decided to chew. I asked my jatigi about another man i work with in the women’s gardens, his phone was not ringing. So after two calls to Mr “B”, he said they both are waiting for me.
So I strapped on the supplies I needed, mounted the motorcycle, and barreled 28 km into the bush, only to arrived at my jatigi’s house with only the women around. So I called Mr “B” on the cell, and he was attending some meeting at the school. A meeting he never told me about. The ladies offered me a seat, but also said the Chief was next door. So I went over to greet the Chief and sit with him instead.
The Chief and I did small talk until my Bambara ran out, which did not take long. I waited, and waited. The Chief finally suggested I might call Mr “B”, and I informed him that I already had, and he said he was on his way. I could tell that the Chief also though I was made to wait too long. I finally decided I was just going to leave. So I said my goodbye to the Chief, strapped on my backpack, pulled on my helmet, and I was in the process of pushing my bike out to the road when Mr “B” arrived, without Mr “Y”, who was really the person I needed to see.
We greeted, he explained how he had to speak at this meeting, just as I called to say I arrived. I asked where Mr “Y” was, because the plan was “Y” was to take me to the campement in the bush, where I was to be inspecting gardens for the day. Turns out that “Y” was also at the school for this very same meeting. I would have gone to the campement without them both, just to see what was accomplished, but I would certainly get lost in the bush, and no one speaks French very well out there, so was not going to risk it. By now my mind was already made up to leave.
Anyway, I inquired of Mr “B” why he did not simply mention that they had important meetings today, so I could have arranged to come another time. But you said nothing to me about it on the phone just a few hours ago, and now I am here and you wasted my morning, and my gas for nothing.
He wanted me to leave the replacement drip irrigation lines. I said I was not, and asked for the road.
He asked, “Are you going to the campement?”
“I am not, I am returning to Sikasso.” I responded.
“With the Material?”, “B” wanted to know again.
“Yes, with the material.” I said.
I shook his hand, got on the motorcycle and drove out of the village with a wide open throttle, garnering great attention and turned heads on the way. He got the message, as did all the others seeing me drive away, and the Chief will hear the news also, as was hoped, and intend.
So here it is, noon time, and I am back home. Mr “B” will eventually call. But I won’t bother answering for a few days.
Mt “B” will call my sometimes helper, Emmanuel, instead. Emmanuel was on a trip to Bamako, so he was not able to come with me to the village today.
I called to inform Emmanuel about what happened, and how Mr “B” wasted my time and gas for nothing. I told Emmanuel that the women in the program did nothing wrong, but I am not accepting false meetings from the politician anymore. Especially when I checked with him just a few hours before, twice.
Anyway, I told Emmanuel that if he and Mr “B” want to work it out, that he, Emmanuel, is free to go work it out. But that Mr Ballo can pay his gas and time, I am not. And I threatened I better not hear he asked the women to pay it either. And If he does not pay Emmanuel’s expenses to go out and do what I was suppose to do today, not to go.
The materials he needs to fix five gardens are here in town now. Truth is I don’t want to see him right now, Mr politician can talk to Emmanuel, he understands that dialect, and with political speak will probably convince Emmanuel to go and help, while I am mad.
As I stepped back into the Man Of Peace Office,
“Back so Soon? How did you manage that?” my wife asked.
“Not difficult to do when you turn around and leave the village. But I got a great motorcycle ride out of it.”, I commented.
Just yesterday I had to look at a village boy i know who is physically underdeveloped. I have a picture of him that I took three years ago. The problem is that three frigging years later the boy looks exactly the same size. There is very little difference because of his stunted growth. He is stunted, malnourished, vitamin and protein deficient. Physically and mentally S.T.U.N.T.E.D and he will live with the effects for life. What boy should be almost the same size after three years?
There are aspects of my work that are build on relationships, so I do all that I can to be a friend. Relationships are important here. I’m counting on it. That is why I know what I did on the motorcycle will work out to a solution.
However, know this. When it comes to garden community development, I am not here to be your friend. My job at the end of the day is to put vitamins, minerals, and health on the plate of children who are seriously malnourished. If you are going to waste my time, and stand in the way of that work, either move aside, or I will move elsewhere. But for goodness sake, don’t waste my time.
Healthy food for children is not a game, it is a war. – Andy Rayner
So don’t waste my time with your politician speak, I don’t understand your language.
I am as angry as hell today, because I spent the last two days looking at stunted, malnourished, and water born bacteria sick children in three encampments, and you want to pull this waste of time stuff.? I’m at war Mr “B”, I am not here for an adventure, or to play a game. You don’t know Andy Rayner, if you think for one second he is going to let you jerk his chain and waste his life, and that of some children.
As I parked my motorcycle in the village this ram tried to gore me with his horns. I was thankfully just out of reach because of his rope, though he did manage to head butt me once. He reminds me of how I feel today. Wish I had horns. Mr “B” probably thinks I do.
I could care less about his ego, or mine.
I am sitting here totally covered in red dust, from head to toe, from the motorcycle trip. In this condition I am writing this down so that everyone around understands something.
It’s a war!
I’m at war, are you?