Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Visitor

Last Sunday afternoon, I was on the veranda in front of our house, working on building a cage for a stray kitten Kathy pulled out of a puddle a couple of weeks ago. The sky was cloudy but it was so humid that I had been drenched in sweat virtually since I’d started about an hour before.

Suddenly, I heard someone calling at the gate. I couldn’t see the gate from where I was on the veranda since I was behind some bushes growing there. However, since I was not expecting anyone, I assumed it was just a “fisherman”, someone calling out to see if by chance the white man would come to the gate so he can ask him for money. I kept on working.

Then the person at the gate began a Muslim chant in Arabic. This is something that professional Muslim beggars do here in the city. I kept working.

Then the person switched to French. Since he was so persistent, I decided to take a glance through the bushes to see if I could see anyone. Imagine my surprise to see a Touareg perched on his camel, looking over my gate! Every now and then, these nomadic wanderers from the north of Burkina come into Ouaga and even parts further south (I once had one come to our house in Zabré!), begging for money and food along the way.

This was too good an opportunity to pass up! I put down my tools and walked towards the gate. Once there, I looked up and asked the man what he wanted. He said something in a language that I could not understand. When I shook my head and looked puzzled, he indicated he wanted something to eat. I pantomimed that I wanted to take a picture of him. To my surprise, he agreed.

So I went back into the house, grabbed a 1,000 franc bill and my camera, and headed out again. First I took several pictures of him over the top of the gate. Then he indicated that I should open the gate and take a full length photo, which I did.

After that, I handed him the money. He smiled broadly and went away happy. And so did I.

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