Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Meeting

I feel like I’ve just come back from another planet! The difference between village life and life in the bustling metropolis of Ouaga is incredible! However, it’s going to be a fact of life in our work here in Burkina Faso, so I guess I’ll get used to it eventually. But for the moment, it’s like going through a mini culture shock each time I make the trip to the village and back.

I actually quite like spending time in the village. Life is more relaxed there and time is more flexible. There’s nothing quite like sitting in Pastor Emmanuel’s courtyard at night, looking up at the clear sky full of bright stars, and feeling the tranquility and quiet wash over you like a refreshing rain. This is certainly not the case in Ouaga where the atmosphere in anything but tranquil and the air is anything but clear. Now that the rains have ended, everything is as dry as dust and the constant traffic on all the roads of the city, most of which are not paved, kicks up enough dust to create a constant fog that makes even the city of Toronto on a smog-alert day look like a Mr. Clean ad!

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned in my last post, I was invited this past weekend to the founding meeting of a Kusassi association that would focus on using the Kusaal language as a means of promoting community development. After our arrival at Pastor Emmanuel’s on Friday night, the three men initiating this association worked late into the night to clarify points in the association's statutes and by-laws, and to prepare the agenda for the meeting the next day.

The meeting was scheduled for 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, but actually started only when all the key people had arrived, which was at 12 noon. That’s normal for an agricultural society that lives largely by the rhythm of the seasons rather than the ticking of a clock. The waiting time is easily filled with greeting people, catching up on the latest news, and planning future activities.

Village chiefs, church pastors, Muslim imams, and other invited guests and interested folks all gathered under the shade of a large mango tree in the village of Zaamé to participate in bringing the new association into being. The statutes and by-laws were read and discussed, a director was elected (our Kusassi co-worker, Pastor Emmanuel), and an administrative team was put into place. All in all, an interesting experience. Of course, my very limited ability in Kusaal meant that I didn’t understand a lot of what was said, but I had someone beside me who was willing to interpret anything I wished to know.

Finally, the meeting drew to close. Good thing, because by this point, everyone was tired and hungry and ready for the tasty meal of ignam, salty tomato sauce with onion, and meat prepared by the ladies of the Zaamé church. After a final cup of Nescafé to bring us back to full alert after the sedative effect of a full stomach, we headed off to spend another tranquil evening in Pastor Emmanuel’s courtyard in the company of good friends, and looking up at a clear sky full of bright stars.


Laura Dun said...

Here's to the Association! Bravo! I so well remember meetings that were of undetermined length... ! :-)

Mike Steinborn said...

Haha, thanks, Laura! Now the real work begins! :)

Ron and Jeanette said...

That is wonderful news, Mike! We will be keeping the Association, and you of course, in our prayers.

Guess you've heard we have lots of snow here now. There is a good foot or more where it isn't piled, and even more where it is!

Mike Steinborn said...

Thanks, Ron & Jeanette!

Yes, we heard about the snow. We're going to miss it, but after a winter like we had last year, not near as much as we normally would :) If you ever get tired of the snow and cold, feel free to come here and join us in the heat!