Monday, 2 June 2008

The Gambian Experience Part Eight (Litter Bugging... and Under Age Sex). From January 2008.

Photo's from the top are as follows:-
Yeuk !
Yeuk dug out and left on roadside.
Me at hotel poolside.
The local girls practice a song and dance routine.
Those T-shirts.

Today is The President's 'Clear Up' day.
Now that's got you hasn't it. What on earth could that be, then ?

Ok, what actually occurs is The President makes a speech which is carried by Gambian television (and possibly radio too but I've never heard it ?) the day before, where he asks if everybody could just clear up the bit of land at the front of their own property or compound then the whole country would look a little nicer on the following day... ?
And get this... The people actually do it.

To move from The Gambia to England (or even maybe the whole of The British Isles ?) for a moment...
I mean can you imagine The Inbred Mutant Offspring of the London Overspill as they are known around my way, actually picking up their neighbour's or their family's litter, bagging it, and then leaving it roadside for a collection ?
Isn't it enough that they get their household refuse picked up as a collection and put out a few cans and bottles for re-cycling and now somebody wants them to pick up somebody else's litter from outside on the street ?
C'mon... It'll never happen. As a nation we're much too bloody selfish for that...
Look around you.
Look at that flytipping bastard who lives next door who dumps his rubbish by shopping trolley or wheelbarrow on the nearest patch of wood or waste ground and despite your Council Tax going up to cover the cost of removing it, you still won't report them for flytipping and their one thousand pound fine because you want the same to apply to you ?
What a slovenly bunch of litter bugging bastards we have become.

Anyway, I digress. Who wants to read about England's rubbish when you have to live in it, so let's get back to The Gambia ?
So there I was, in complete astonishment at never having seen anything like this before... watching the adults and the kids outside bending their backs and picking it all up to put into a small black plastic bag about a third the size of those our Council gives us and within a couple of hours the whole place looks different...
Ok, tomorrow is another day as someone once said but the fact that it occurred amazed me and the fact that it happens once a month is mind blowing to a Westerner who would like something like that to occur in England but knows it never will because of the selfish attitudes of the people.
And get this... It works.
It's so simple and it works but I suppose you have to have a sense of community and an attitude that isn't just 'me, me, me, me, me, me' all the time and where are you going to find that ?
Maybe in some of the prettier small villages something like this could occur, but across the nation ?
No chance !
Here however, it takes place once a month and my trip has coincided with it.
Since I don't have a compound of my own I'm excluded and told to go back inside by the family...
What !
They're not joking either. Apparently I'm getting in the way.
Sod that !
I'll help out over the other side of the road.
Picking it up, sweeping it up, shovelling it up and getting covered in it...
It's all go here until finally the whole area looks transformed and clean except for the bulging black sacks of rubbish which await collection by governmental truck and the piles of yeuk that we've been digging out of what looks like an open sewer up the street.
The only good thing about the heat is that it dries it out so it doesn't smell as bad.
So there we are, all covered in crap and the water goes off for ten hours which it does occasionally when there is a run on it...
Arrrrrggggghhhh !
Give the kids some money to buy the bottled stuff and call 'Tufa...
C'mon mate... Let's go to the hotel. They've got an emergency tank full of the stuff and what is more, they have a swimming pool too...
I knew there was a reason I booked in there as well.

I think I'm going to spend the afternoon lounging by the pool but the sky clouds over after an hour so I'm out of the pool and drying off... Ok, back to Haddy's.

When we arrive back there we find that some of the local girls have taken over her compound to practice their song and dance routines that they perform at the local youthclub and so there is no peace for the wicked.
They will be off to perform later that evening and poor old Mariama will be left behind again, as despite knowing all the songs and dancing moves she is still too young to perform with the troupe.
It's a hard life being a younger sister sometimes.
I comment to Haddy about the t-shirts that the girls are wearing as the message on the back seems quite relevant and she tells me that they are trying to instil into the teenage girls that they don't have to have sex with somebody just because a young lad wants to.
I agree, but does it work ?
She answers that it isn't perfect but it has instilled a new sense of pride in the girls, and there seem to be a lot less pregnancies since they started it.
I am amazed.
Think about that for a moment ?
Could it happen in your country where male and female actually have equality but the amount of teenage pregnancies is rising every year (and in the case of England, going through the roof) ?
Why is it that the European model does not have enough self pride to say no and yet these kids in what is definitely a poorer society to us have learned enough and taken enough pride in themselves to say no ?
Maybe you have to appreciate that small amount you have ?
These kids have been 'empowered' by that one small thing.
They can say no with a sense of pride in themselves and nobody in their peer group takes the mick out of them for doing so.
Good for them.
It's such a shame that we've passed the point of no return in England...
Still, it's one way of jumping the housing queue, isn't it ?

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