Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Africa: Part Two

(This is continued from part one.)

When a boy reaches the age of twelve his father will take him out into the jungle and perform rituals to make him a man. They are usually gone for several months and when they get back the boy joins the men at the men's hut.

Becoming a man means that his productive life is over. Only women and children work. A boy can help his mom until the age of twelve, after that his life consists of hanging out in the men's hut and drinking banana mash.

Banana mash is made by the men. They go into the jungle and cut down a tree. They will hollow it out like a dugout canoe and then fill it up with plantain bananas with the skins on. They then cover this with a thick layer of leaves and get in and stomp around a bit mashing the bananas.
They leave this out in the hot sun for a couple weeks then stomp it again. After a couple more weeks in the sun they will drill a small hole in the bottom of the dugout tree and extract almost pure alcohol.

Almost every boy is an alcoholic by the age of 15.

Later on the eldest of the three sisters showed up. She was pregnant. She had been raped by a man and now her and her two sisters live at the orphanage.

At the orphanage Mrs. R was volunteering at, they are taking care of over 700 children in a space designed to handle 200. The children are taught school lessons by older orphans who have graduated and get paid one meal a day for working a ten hour shift. In the orphanage they all eat together and try to teach a better way. Sometimes the children and women are served before the men, and on certain days the men serve the women.

They hope by teaching simple lessons like this that they will be able to change a society where rape and murder are considered a man's right.

She had plenty of other stories but I don't have the time here to write them all.

I wonder about a society that's self destructive and the ignorance of the rest of the world. Unfortunately I have to still group myself with the ignorant. And for now I have to satisfy myself with helping by telling others what I have learned, and hope through small efforts to make a change.

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