Thursday, February 01, 2007

The census-taker passed by just around Christmastime. I forgot to mention it, what with all the other excitement around here. I found his arrival delightfully timed, lining up nicely with the Biblical account of the long journey of a carpenter and his spouse- a journey prompted by a census.

Fortunately, we were not required to trek back to JP’s place of birth in northern Lorraine. The census-taker came to us, clipboard in hand, I showed him into the living room and suggested that JP be the family representative. I thought I’d just go into my office and eavesdrop a bit from in front of my computer.

He first asked JP’s name, then:

“Are you married?”


“How many wives?”

“Beth!” JP shouted towards the office. “How many wives are there now?”

“I forget”. I answered. If I was a quick thinker, I would have said, “ Just the one now, since I poisoned that girl you brought home last week.” But that might have scared the census guy, so maybe it’s for the best.

The interview went on to enquire about the number and ages of our children and which of them, if any, go to school.

He then asked how many motorscooters our household owns.




“Pirogues?” ( small fishing boats)


“How many camels?”






I heard Mallory whispering urgently to JP in English “Tell him we have guinea pigs! And two turtles!! And a rabbit!”

The census guy then asked about the house- whether we have electricity, running water, radio, etc.

He went on to end the interview by asking JP for a job, which was a bit of a surprise. But I guess census-taking is just a seasonal job. If he asked in every home he went to, maybe he ended up finding something.

I was never interviewed by a census-taker when I lived in the US. But I wager that it wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining as here in Burkina.

1 comment:

Mom of Three said...

HOW MANY WIVES? Shoot, when I got interviewed by a census taker in California, they only wanted to know boring stuff, like how many kids I had...