There, I said it.
Now that I have your attention.
The degree to which some Malian men meddle, complicate, and try to control womens affairs in this patriarchal society never ceases to amaze me.
The intent of these kind of men was clarified to me this week. They want to benefit. To take a cut. So they keep the women project on a tight leash, if possible.
The women work in the fields with their men, but the money from the harvest is all controlled by the men. Women’s liquid cash has to come from other sources, that usually requires insanely hard work, to earn mere pennies.
So the men will have no qualm meddling in the garden profits, of you let them, assuring veggies are sold for cash, rather than eaten for the health of the family.
I was in the bush today, and we were supposed to meet with another potential project women’s group. Most of the women were not there.
The camp knew we were coming for a week. We were to meet with all the women today. So what happened? Are they not excited about the possibilities?
Alas, the men interfered. There was a big corn shucking going on in a field and the men told half their women they had to go help in the affair, even though the women will reap none of the financial benefits.
So i drove out of my way to visit this second camp for nothing.
I asked the women present if they had a site selected yet, and asked if I might see it. They did have a site picked, but like good submissive women they said only the men could taken us there, and they are in the field shucking corn.
The ladies present at this half assed meeting said to come back next Wednesday, and, catch this, “The men will all be here.”
So this remote camp is scheduling meetings now? Really? You are that busy? You have NGO’s lining up at your door? You are scheduling my day too, are you?
They never even asked if I could come on this day. They never apologized for wasting my time today. I said my thank you, and left. Probably for good.
I later discovered that one of men of the camp went to the chief of women of this other camp, where i have a huge drip garden project underway with fifty eight women, and she says that he demanded that she send over the drip irrigated garden supplies I sent to her village for them.
Stubborn old bird, she knows what men are like here. She sent nothing over.I could kiss her. Who in the heck is this guy asking for the stuff we sent out? Beats me, and I don’t care either.
Why was it not the women asking for their kits saying they were ready to set up and get started? Because the women are not in control of their own project, they could not even show me their selected site without a male taking me. A first.
I don’t have these issues most places, because most men understand that if their wives benefit from a project, the whole family does. Normal men are simply happy for us to help their family any way we can.
When I was made aware of the mans demand, I called the chief of women and told her to stick to her guns, and send nothing over to that camp until i meet with the women and approve their site.
I have no intentions of showing up next week to this men’s meeting. Probably never.
It was the richest encampment i have ever seen in the bush. Instead of mud homes, these homes were all brick, tin roofs, steel doors and windows, solar panels, and two satellite dishes with three tuners on each dish, which means televisions, plural.
When we got back into town, my guide and I stopped for a bite to eat, just some rice and sauce. I commented on how surreal it was to see this relative wealth in this context. So unusual for the area. My Malain guide mentioned a Mercedes-Benz parked under the tree. What? I never saw any car. Used, old, Mercedes cars imported to Africa from Europe are nothing unusual to see in any town in Mali. However, my guide said it was not just any Mercedes, but one in very good condition. Oh boy!
Don’t misunderstand me, this camp is remote, but it is not an encampment of the poor; not the poor as i know and see them all over this region.
Hope the second meeting they scheduled with themselves goes well next Wednesday.
I don’t want to meet with the Malian male assholes trying to manipulate their women’s project to line their own pockets. I’d like to kick them right now.
Having wrote this, let me conclude by saying that twenty women in this other camp had leveled a huge plot today. Sigh- the other 38 were also asked by their husbands to shuck corn today. Which is fine, as they don’t meddle in the women’s garden. It is all for their benefit.
Today might require Rum.
“…the three cardinal tenets of rum drinking in Newfoundland. The first of these is that as soon as a bottle is placed on a table it must be opened. This is done to “let the air get at it and carry off the black vapors.” The second tenet is that a bottle, once opened, must never be restoppered, because of the belief that it will then go bad. No bottle of rum has ever gone bad in Newfoundland, but none has ever been restoppered, so there is no way of knowing whether this belief is reasonable. The final tenet is that an open bottle must be drunk as rapidly as possible “before all to-good goes out of it.” ― Farley Mowat, The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float
“People forget that this is a pilgrimage, not a race. They don’t take their time. They bring their stress with them. Sometimes it kills them.” (Robert Ward. All The Good Pilgrims)