Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Hate Chickens. And Pigs

I feel like this piece requires a bit of context. I am laying in a lit picot at my homologue's house listening to Black Sabbath on my ipod. There was a death in my family's compound on the 2nd. The internment happened already, but today is when everyone from the area comes and says hi to the family. I am here to escape the influx of strangers in my compound. I did not escape unscathed however, I've been taking shots of sodabe all day. We will say that I was compelled. I am writing these in the order that I thought them up, so I will deal with New Years and funerals later. Like next month.
Over my right knee I can see, in order, a papyaya tree, a neem? tree, and a baobob tree. Google baobobs. For they are huge and awesome. There are mango blooms about three feet from my head.
The compound. If you take a typical American home and turn it inside out, you would have a Togolese compound. Bedrooms and storerooms-- there is little distinction between the two-- line the perimeter of the compound. The doors open into the compound. Never outward. My "house" is two rooms lining one side of my host family's compound. Where there are no buildings, there is a wall. This is typical of Konkomba architecture. Dedicated granaries are usually outside of the compound, unlike, say, Lamba compounds.
Anyway, the compound is an open area that serves as a kitchen, common area, work area, threshing floor, etc. The Konkumba thresh stuff by piling it up and beating it with sticks. I could do corn for about 10 minutes. My host sisters did it for hours.
Chickens, goats, and pigs (here) wander in and out of compounds looking for food. I just kicked a bench at a pig that strayed in. Chickens are a pet peeve since a hen and her chicks crapped all over my sandals that were outside the door of my house. Actually, I hate roosters even worse. Guinea fowl are annoying as hell too. Anyway, right now, Kodjo's son, Eelayo is throwing corn cobs at chickens and piglets that have come into the compound and are getting into stuff.
In Nampoch, each compound is sort of considered a "house" except when multiple families live in a big compound. I think. The compounds often ajoin each other-- so when I go to visit someone it feels like that I am walking through someone else's living room. This is something I need to get over. The concept of a "home" here is different. In the US you would not enter someone's house without permission. Here, the bedroom is sacrosanct--you don't enter it without permission. During cotton harvest, my host family is using one of their bedrooms as a cotton store room. The room is about full. I hate picking cotton.

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