Tuesday, April 5, 2011

San vs. Mossi 2-0

It’s Sunday evening and my friend Adama heads out from his house on his way to a meeting. He’s all dressed up in a nice West African boubou. A few hundred metres down the road, he sees a group of his neighbours sitting outside someone’s courtyard talking, so he stops to greet them.

“Hey, Adama!” one of them shouts out. “Now you’re properly dressed to play the role of the San chief!” Adama is a San and his neighbours are Mossi, with whom the San have a joking relationship. By saying this, they are not only making fun of him (implying that as an ordinary San man he has pretensions to be the leader of his people) but also of the San people (any ordinary Tom, Dick or Harry could be the leader of such a people!).

“Ah, no!” replies Adama. “You’re mistaken. I’m on my way to take the place of the Moro Naba!” The Moro Naba is the supreme chief of the Mossi people, the ethnic group that conquered all of eastern Burkina several centuries ago and subjected all the neighbouring people, including the San.

“You’d better hurry to get to the Naba’s palace,” continued Adama, “and be ready to welcome me in appropriate style. It just wouldn’t be right if I as your new leader arrived there ahead of you!”

And before they could think of a suitable rejoinder, he jumped in his truck and drove off.


No comments: