Monday, January 5, 2009

Western Solutions to African Problems #1

The other day I was talking with a Burkinabè friend when an American friend came up to ask him a question. He wanted to know how much it would cost to buy a male and a female goat. He was helping to support a local widow and her kids and thought that if she had a couple of goats, she could breed them and sell the offspring to help support herself. My Burkinabè friend thought for a few moments and said that 25,000 FCFA (about $60) should do it.

After the American left, the Burkinabè shook his head, leaned towards me and said, “It’ll never work.” “Why not?” I asked. “Because,” he said, “she lives here in the city. First of all, what’s she going to feed the goats? If she lived in a village, they could graze in the fields. But here in Ouaga, she’ll have to buy food for them. Secondly, people will steal them from her, maybe even in broad daylight. After all, she’s just a woman with a bunch of little kids. They’ll never be able to stop a couple of men who come into their courtyard and take the goats.”

“Good grief!” I exclaimed. “Why didn’t you tell him this?”

“Because he didn’t ask for my advice as to whether his idea would work or not. He just asked me for the price of the goats. In my experience, people that don’t ask for your advice don’t appreciate getting any, especially foreigners who think they know what they’re doing here in Burkina. They just don’t take kindly to your telling them their idea won’t work.”

Hmmm… food for thought.

No comments: