Monday, 1 September 2014


Today Haddy and I are off to Killy.
All the boxes we’d earmarked for them are already there, and finally we have a village full of people…
Here we go again, but this time it’s just me and Haddy stuck in overcrowded minibuses for about two and a half hours each way with a half-hour wait in the middle at Brikama where we change over.
At least the vendors aren’t trying to overcharge everybody with their water, snacks and juices while we’re waiting, but finally we’re off and running…
Not for very long though, if the sound from the engine of our minibus is anything to go by ?
About fifteen minutes after I told Haddy ‘I don’t like the sound of that engine…’ we coasted to a halt.
The driver is out and the bonnet is up but whatever he seems to do is not getting us started and that’s a fact, and so he makes a couple of calls on his mobile ‘phone, and we wait…
In absolutely stifling heat, I may add.
About twenty minutes later a ‘spare part’ arrives by car and the poor old engine is bashed, smashed and beaten until the part is attached.
It doesn’t look as if it’s the right part because now the driver cannot close the lid of the engine box on the inside of the bus, which means that the front three rows, of which we are one, can see the internal workings of the actual engine, plus the ground on which we are driving…
But necessity being the mother of invention, our driver has managed to get the engine started again for which a round of applause is given by the passengers, and I don’t think they were being particularly sarcastic in doing so, either.
And a good hour later than we should have been, we finally alight at Killy...
And Haddy takes me round...

The original well at Killy. Source of their only water until the pipes were laid

If you click on the link below you will see what and where... 

Haddy's neighbours
Ousman is there waiting for us, and we are taken straight to his compound for a cooling drink of water, which I have to say, has NEVER tasted so good as it did at that moment.
I think I must have lost about five pounds in weight just in sweat during the journey ?

It’s going to take about an hour to get all the villagers together from their outlying farms and compounds but at least they know it’s finally occurring.
As soon as the vast majority are gathered, the boxes start coming out and there is obvious anticipation from the locals.
Carrying the local tea leaves prior to drying them...
One thing about Killy.
My wife used to teach their children after she gave up being headmistress of Rex Nursery in Fajikunda.
She did it after she moved back to The Gambia when her five years was up in the UK so quite a few of the population still call her ‘Mistress’ which is the name they give teachers over there.
Because it is quite a trek to get there and a teacher’s salary is quite small she used to stay over during the week and only go back to see her own family at weekends so they do know her quite well, but I’ve digressed again…

The boxes are coming out, the piles of clothing are being tipped out so that people can see them, and the crowd is getting larger by the minute.
There are actually seven boxes full.
For some reason I thought we'd sent five (out of eight) but the reality is we sent ten out and seven went to Killy.
The local Imam has arrived and sat down on the proffered chair and he will be getting the first offering, which, when it comes, is a small pair of brand new curtains which somebody donated because they didn’t fit their window (should have measured and not guessed, it’s cheaper that way…) and because I have no idea how much videotape I have left (about twenty minutes according to the camera) I’ve turned it off at this particular moment after he got up and left the gathering to take them home, because I want to film those I know as opposed to the general population…
If you want to watch the build-up, then click on the link below

This is a mistake, because about sixty seconds later there is one almighty crowd surge and they all start diving in and helping themselves to anything they can get their hands on !!!
Tugging fights between women, some holding children, are going on everywhere and even the children are grabbing anything they can get and then stuffing their booty under their t-shirts and going back into the melee to grab more.
Jeezus !!!
That was a serious shock to the system and my heart goes out to my wife who has just witnessed what can only be described as a mini-riot in her own back yard…
Another sixty seconds has gone by and all that is left are the trampled remains of five cardboard boxes and the late-comers wondering where all the clothes went ?
Those who partook of what can only be described as an orgy of looting are legging it hotfoot back to their own compounds with what they’ve managed to grab, some swapping with others to get something that might actually fit them or their kids along the way.
Ousman is devastated.
Not just because both his wives and families got absolutely nothing after the work that he put in, but because he thinks it was (his word) ‘shameful’ for Haddy to have witnessed the village’s greed.
And he’s probably right ?
I really don’t know what to think ?
On the one hand we shipped them out to go to Killy, and yet I don’t think even I was expecting anything like this ?
Haddy is now trying to placate Ousman, telling him that when one of his sons brings his truck full of produce into Fagikunda he can pick up a box-full for himself and his family, because she has three more.
Ok, they were supposed to be given out in Fagikunda to people that she knew needed them, but there will still be enough to go around.
And then one of the younger women or wives asks me in quite good English ‘Did you expect this ?’
And I replied ‘I didn’t know what to expect in all honesty…’
‘These people have nothing… They work hard for so little reward that sometimes when they see something like this, something takes over… They are not really bad people…’
‘I know… I’m just feeling a bit hurt for my wife is all… She so much wanted to help them…’
‘She is a very kind and good lady…’
‘Yeah… I know…’
And I laughed, and the young lady grinned and said ‘You are feeling better about it already…’
‘I think I’m going to give my wife a hug, please excuse me…’

We left Killy about an hour later, after a minibus managed to cram us in on their way to Brikama.
Haddy was quiet and didn’t really want to talk about what she’d seen.
We changed minibuses at Brikama and she said that she’d go through the three boxes when she got in so that Ousman’s family would get an assortment, and I agreed it was a good idea…
I know she’s upset at what happened, but what’s done is done and can’t be undone and that’s it.
All we can do if we ship out more, is give the whole lot to Ousman and ask him to give it to those he thinks fit ?
Today had certainly had been an eye-opener and I’m definitely going to have a few beers when I get in.
It had also left a bad taste and I wanted to wash it away.
One thing I did know was that my wife did not deserve that.
What was it Ousman had said ?
Shameful ?
I guess it’s one way of looking at things.
Are things really that bad that poor but normal hard working people just turn to avarice and greed
when given the opportunity ?
The cynic in me would definitely say yes, but I’m not so sure it’s true.
I just wonder how many people back in the UK would even understand ?
But then this isn’t the UK, this is Africa and a different set of rules are in play…
And the answer to the rhetorical question above ?
About as close to fuck-all as zero is...

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