Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kusassi Reunion

Our reunion meeting with the Kusassi this past Saturday was a time to remember. Not just for the length of the day and the endurance of the rough journey both there & back, but also for the joy of seeing people again for the first time in over 3 years, many of whom wondered if we were actually ever coming back! For my part, I was glad to see that none of them had died of illness, accident, or age during our absence, an all too-common possibility in this country where average life expectancy is still under 50.

The meeting was held in the town of Youga, the easternmost one in the Kusassi region, and also the site of a newly opened gold mine run by, believe it or not, a Canadian company called Etruscan Resources. Evidence of this new activity was everywhere. Although the mine was located some distance away, this once sleepy village was sprouting new buildings, company vehicles with flashing lights drove too and fro on the main road near our meeting place, often disrupting the speakers, and men with hard hats walked by from time to time, either on their way home or to work.

Other signs of progress struck me during our time there also, though these were not directly linked to the mine. Formerly, whenever there was a meeting of church leaders and others like this, one would find a row of bicycles nearby, these being the main mode of transportation available to them. Now there was a row of motorcycles. The other thing was cell phones. Nearly everyone had them and people were constantly leaving the meeting to answer a call.

This was great! No longer did the church leaders have to pedal long hours over poor roads and trails to get to a meeting. And cell phones now made it possible to communicate and set up meetings without having to go around and physically touch base with everyone first.

Prior to leaving Youga, we stopped to visit the new chief of the village. He had heard that we were in the area and sent a message asking us to come and see him before we took off. Unlike most village chiefs who rarely if ever left the area, this one was a newly retired gendarme who had just returned to the area after a career outside. He received us graciously, we talked, and then he sent us on our way with a rooster as a parting gift. This gift has woken us up early for the past two mornings here in Ouaga. I think we’ll call him Stew…

No comments: