Friday, February 8, 2013

the return of Nighan, or, the camels are coming!

Ive been on this major coconut/banana kick lately.  One can buy coconuts relatively easily in Kouka.  I buy chunks of the meat.  They are so good.  I hate shredded coconut, but there is something about the meat that I really like.  A faint fatty taste? I dont know. Many of the bananas here arent those phallic bland ones that one finds in supermarkets.  No, my favorite ones here are short, stubby, and sweet.  They have a lot of fiber and leave a film in your mouth, but they are really good.

Last week I went to a ceremony where the prefet nominated a Fulani chief as the first Fulani chief of the canton of Nampoch.  In other words, he's responsible for all of the Fulani in the canton.  It was pretty cool.  It was the first time I'd seen Fulani dances.  They use flutes.  And there is this one ritual where the men and boys go after each other with painted sticks.  When this started in the Fulani quarter on the outskirts of Nampoch, all of my neighbors went running out to watch. 

The Fulani are an example of the "melting pot" nature of Togo (actually, at the reception after the ceremony, the highschool director used that term when he was talking to me).  Anyway, traditionally the Fulani are nomads.  However, a while back, Petit's grandfather invited a Fulani family to settle on some land outside of Nampoch to oversee their cattle herds.  This was mutually beneficial to both Nampoch and the Fulani.  Nampoch got the wealth that cattle bring while the Fulani received a secure area to water and pasture their herds.  The other day, when I was out picking cotton, three different herds went through.  My friends were guessing where they were from and were calling out to the drovers in different languages.  One guy was from Niger I think.  Tis the season for nomadic herds, but I digress . . .

Anyway, Fulani.  They look different from Togolese.  Finer features, high cheekbones.  Tall, thin, and lanky usually.  The women braid their hair with beads instead of shaving it like many Togolese women.  The men, especially those from beyond Burkina, are fond of sport coats and Arabic scarves. Fulani make the best wagash-- local cheese.

I was awoken about 3 am the other night by growling.  From under my bed.  My torchlight revealed Tadji and Nighan standing in my bedroom growling at each other.  Upon further investigation I noticed a half-grown kitten cowering under my clothes shelves.  When I shined my light on him, he tried to climb up the wall.  I couldn't sleep with all the growling, so I ushered all the participents out of my bedroom.  Or tried to.  I had to get my broom to move the kitten.  He was so feral he was bouncing off the walls.  Literally.  Eventually, I directed him towards the door and he took off.  Nighan now spends her days hiding in my shelves.  I am not sure why.  I think maybe she is trying to get away from her kitten(s).

This is the time of year when nomads from Niger/Mali/Burkina ride their camels down south in search of forage and water. 

D and I came down to Lome yesterday.  She's taking the GRE tomorrow and we're working on closing out our pump project.  Somewhere south of Atakpame I realised that my skin started feeling greasy.  It hasnt stopped.  I hate the humidity down here.  But, last night we ate calimari, cheese pizza, and a cheeseburger/fries.  I got the burger, she got the fries.  That and draft beer almost makes up for the humidity.

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