It’s strange, some of the things you notice when you’ve been away for a bit…
The twin's Wonjor making system seems to be going great guns in that they are selling out on a daily basis, but some people have started abusing it and have decided that they will pay when it’s convenient to them rather than at the point of sale.
That’s going to stop as soon as I can get a word in edgeways.
Plus, the whole local ‘culture’ thing is putting a fair bit of strain on the younger ones who are being used as skivvies by some of the local young men, and that is beginning to piss me off somewhat so that is going to stop NOW and there aren’t going to be any arguments unless they want one with me ?
Here’s an example of what I mean…
Its late afternoon and Haddy and the twins are out somewhere, I’m in the compound with Jalika who is sat peacefully doing her homework.
The gate opens and some youth who I don’t know from Adam walks in.
His first words are ‘Jalika, get me a drink’.
Now I appreciate that the word ‘please’ doesn’t come into it, but his attitude sucks big time because as far as I am concerned when the younger ones are doing their school assignments then they are doing just that and their time doing so is NOT going to be interrupted by some arrogant prick who seems to think he can just walk in uninvited and demand their attention.
Had he come in and just sat then I would have offered him a drink and Jalika could have gone on doing her homework without any interruption but it didn’t.
There was this implied attitude that because she’s a girl then she can just run and do his bidding when he demands it and I’m not happy about that.
This is their culture.
A ‘man’ demands and the woman or child runs to fulfill it.
It flies in the face of every reason for girls to get an education.
If the culture is not going to move forward with the times then the times have to move forward without the culture.
Anyway, I made mental notes and told Haddy about it when she returned.
She says it’s difficult because that attitude is so ingrained in that it won’t be changing anytime soon and so I said that the next one who does it will incur my severe displeasure and will be told that when the younger ones are doing their homework then they are doing something a little bit more important than being used as a slave by an uninvited so called ‘guest’.
She says that she’ll talk to the twins and Awa about it because she does actually agree with me, but that it’s going to be difficult…
Most of our regular guys who pop round know better than to get into an argument with the twins because they know they will never win it, but there’s bound to be one or two who decide that because they are male then they have certain ‘rights’.
In which case they can exercise them in their own compound and not ours, can’t they ?
But first things first…
‘Hey girls, who’s not paying for Wonjor because it seems that not everybody is ?’
Apparently all the locals and their children do, but some of the guys seem to think that they can help themselves and maybe forget to pay when the time comes.
‘Fine, so we put the lock back on the freezer door and it becomes no money, no Wonjor, that’ll cure it. And next time ‘Tufa comes in because he’s the worst offender, tell him he owes us for five large bottles, One hundred and fifty Dalasi… We have to pay for the ingredients to keep production going and he’s not helping one bit.
Just ask him to settle his bill. If he won’t then he’ll have to find another supplier because right now he’s just taking the piss…’
‘Uncle Chris, you can’t…’
‘Who’s paying for it ?
‘He’s got himself a job which seems to pay reasonably, so he can stop scrounging off those who haven’t’.
No money, no Wonjor.
It’s possible that the spare freezer that they’ve managed to get working again will have to be moved anyway, as Fatou has been talking to the twins about opening one of the shops as a hair dressing salon.
She’ll pay for and supply all of the bits needed and the twins can work in it.
It’s not such a bad idea as there isn’t really one locally and because it’s on site as it were then they would not have to travel anywhere to work.
That is of course providing the girls are up for it and there is no guarantee that will be the case ?
But she’ll be out here anyway three weeks after we’ve flown back and so she can do her own bit of persuasion.
She’s coming out with husband Vincent and Vincent Jnr so that the family can meet her son and Jalika can meet her little brother, and that’s going to be interesting.
But that’s not our concern right now, the little ones homework is, however…
A couple of days later it occurs again and it’s the same guy, but he got me instead.
The gate swings open and in he walks like he owns the place…
‘Jalika, get me a drink…’
Jalika just carries on writing.
‘Jalika, didn’t you hear me, get me a drink’
Jalika looks up and then carries on doing her homework.
At which point I get up from where I’m sitting and ask him what his problem is ?
Can he not see that she’s doing her homework and if he wants a drink then there’s a shop opposite which sells them but if he wants water then there’s a tap over there in the corner and he can help himself but please don’t just come in and disturb people who are busy doing what they are supposed to be doing.
The look of shock on his face was a joy to behold.
Oh the joys of being a toubab.
The reality is he wants an ice cold bottle from the freezer but unless he learns not to throw his weight about he won’t be getting one, and that’s the bottom line.
He looks startled, probably because nobody has actually told him to fuck off before.
‘Ok, so you want a drink or what ?’
He stammers something then turns on his heel and leaves the compound without a drink.
Oh well, if I’m going to be the bad guy then I might as well go the whole hog ?
I know I’m going to hear about it when the twins get to know about it because he’s definitely one of their circle.
Which I did, courtesy of the power of mobile ‘phones about ninety minutes later…
‘Uncle Chris, what did you say ?’
‘I told him Jalika was doing her homework and was not to be disturbed while she’s doing it…
I then told him that if he wanted a drink then there’s a tap in the corner and to help himself.
Of course we could always just shut the gate and then he wouldn’t come in and demand…
And that’s what pisses me off, the fact that he thinks he can just turn up and demand.
If I turned up at his family’s compound and did the same thing then they would think me rude and impolite, so what’s the difference ?
If he had just come in and sat then I would have offered, but he didn’t did he ?
He demanded, and THAT is not just impolite it’s downright rude, so I won’t be losing any sleep over it. People have to learn and if they can’t do it the easy way then they have to learn the hard way…
And the other thing is that you and your sisters, including Jalika who is the youngest, are no man’s slaves while you are in your own home and please remember that.
I understand the welcoming and politeness dictates that you offer, but it wasn’t like that, was it ?
This was just sheer arrogance and very rude and it stops now…’
Oh well, It’s going to be a major talking point later on tonight, and I reckon it’ll be all around the village in just over twenty four hours ?
Ok, make that two hours…
The strange thing is, most of the older women think I did the right thing.
The guys are a bit dubious but they say they understand.
Even if it’s NOT a man’s job to see to guests comfort...