Monday, 26 July 2010

School's Out

The school year has ended. It's the season of cultivation, and in the countryside, everyone is out in the fields, men, women and children - the villages are almost deserted. The fields can be a long way from the village, so people stay out all day and sometimes even overnight. Whether the school year was originally based (like the education system) on the French, or whether it's aligned to the agricultural year, I don't know, perhaps it's a happy coincidence. So the rural kids are busy, out in the fields weeding, taking care of some animals (actually that happens in town too) or rampaging around having fun. School is out until the end of September - that's 3 months off. And in town, the kids are bored, bored, bored. The town is full of kids, and some have jobs to do, like taking care of a little brother or sister, chopping wood, cooking, washing up, endless sweeping and washing of clothes, which get filthy and covered in red dust and, with the rains, splattered with red mud (all work for women and girls) . Little boys get sent on errands - to buy cigarettes or matches, or to get change, or to give a message.

But a load of kids have nothing to do. I asked some neighbourhood kids what they had done today, and they chorused 'rien' (nothing). Some of the more enterprising have been playing hide and seek. And some of them have discovered a new game, which is to go and call on 'la Blanche/Toubabou', ie to bang on my door to say good day to me! So sometimes the balcony is full of kids - I don't have much entertainment to offer them, unfortunately, and conversation can be limited as the little ones who don't go to school (and sadly some bigger ones who appear not to go to school either) don't speak French. But we get by. And the novelty of sitting on my garden chairs on my first floor balcony (most buildings here being single storey), with a view out over the street, seems to amuse them for a bit. And sometimes the things they say amuse me too and their smiles would brighten the dullest day.

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