Anthropology From A Chief

I lost a load of drip irrigation off the motorcycle while in the bush today. One of the cords holding the load on the back of my Motorcycle broke, and the drip irrigation supplies spilled all over the trail.  I had ten drip irrigation garden kits strapped on my bike and another ten filter units on my friend’s motorcycle.

We quickly collected the irrigation supplies strewed across the trail,and securely reattached it to my  motorcycle.  Since we were stopped anyway, we took advantage of walking out into the old dried up millet field, to a huge wooden, fenced-in enclosure in the middle of nowhere. I was wondering what it was, so my friend S. suggested we walk out to it and find out what it is. We walked the 200 meters across the rock hard furrows to the enclosure.  A man was exiting  just as we arrived.

Little chicks are under the woven baskets to protect them from hawks and other predatory birds.

Turns out it that this wooden wall structure is his chicken pen.  There were only a few chicks and a rooster in there at this time, but he will be adding more chicks in a few more days, he said,  and they will grow to maturity, and for sale.

The chicken houses, for shade. Made of grass thatches.

I asked the man if he was afraid people might steal the chickens, considering they are kind of out in the middle of nowhere. He said that theft is not a problem around that area, at least not yet.

We introduced ourselves, and it turns out that he, Allison Traoure, is the Chief of a nearby Senoufo village I often drive through. I commented that he was very young to be a chief. Turns out that A. Traoure is only forty six years old, and has been chief for twenty years already, since he was twenty six years of age.

Chief Allison Traoure. Senoufo Village. Became chief at the age of 26, he is now 46 years old.

He shared this with us:

“Leadership is passed down only through a certain family line, and the age of the person next in line means nothing. Even if there are many other men older than me in the village, it makes no difference, because chiefs are chosen only from my family lineage. I became chief when I was twenty six years old, and it does not matter if the next person in my linage is only ten years old when I die, he will become chief. It is the way our custom works.”

I have been driving through Chief Traoure ‘s village for the last three months, so it was kind of providential that the one man I meet in the bush from this village, just so happens to be the chief.

I took a few pictures of him, and his awesome bush built chicken coop. I told him that this serious work indicates to me that he is a man who has vision for the future, when many men do not think of the future at all.

As a gift, my friend S. gave the Chief a Micro SD memory card for his phone that contains audio files and a few videos. It is a real treat for him to have something to listen to and watch on his simple Chinese cellphone in the bush.

We said our goodbyes and we went on our way.

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