Saturday, January 05, 2008

Title of today's blog entry: The Wisdom of the Papaya Master
Being a twin in Burkina is special. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes bad. Among the Winyé, for example, the birth of twins can be interpreted as either 1. a reward: What a good mom you are! or 2. A punishment: Doom in the form of two small infants. But once you have got past those early days (which could potentially end up in infanticide), being a twin is good stuff. You weren’t killed, so you must be some of those “Good Luck” twins! At the least, you get “Hey! Twins! How wonderful!”. Even better, as a twin, you often get offered small amounts of money and gifts when you are out together in public, all of which are impossible to refuse, as the giving confers good luck upon the benefactors.
Today I had my twins with me as I ran errands in town. I stopped at the marché to buy strawberries (Yes! It’s finally strawberry season!) and the girls were welcomed with open arms and two fat papayas. Now, this is sad, but my girls HATE papayas with a passion usually reserved for tyrannical despots that abuse kittens in their spare time. It’s really a shame, as we live in Papaya Central, but there you go. The girls thanked the fruit market ladies politely and climbed back into the car, discussing who could be the lucky beneficiary of this fruity windfall. I could hear them discussing it in the backseat as we drove home, deciding finally to give the fruit to some of the “tomato can boys” that line the Blvd Ch. de G. These young kids are sent out by their Islamic teachers to beg for coins. They are supposed to give everything to the teacher, who in turn is supposed to care for them and teach them. These Koranic “schools” are often to only “education” poor families can afford, as the marabouts usually ask for no money from the parents. On the other hand, these boys are often very young and spend their days out on the street in dangerous traffic. And some of the teachers don’t seem very good about using the money to buy food for the children or to look after their welfare. (Please read this for further info on the subject.) I certainly don’t like to encourage this dubious system that at best results in these kids memorizing bits of the Koran in Arabic. Not really a useful tool for their future. And oh yeah- they learn to beg. Great. Anyway, I DO like to give these boys food, which they can enjoy and are not obliged to bring back to their marabouts.

Well, the twins gave the fruit to the Koran school boys. But before they did so, there was much discussion in the backseat. I couldn’t make out much, but I heard Alexa mention “…the Wisdom of the Papaya Master”. I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds terribly interesting. It’s good to know that even though papayas are not tasty (I find them disturbingly squishy and overly sweet), they actually possess some amazing, unsuspected qualities. They bestow wisdom! Who knew?


babzee said...

Was this discussion held in English or in French? Forgive me but while I am sanguine of your capacity to translate the LETTER of your children's dialog, I am dubious of your ability to translate the INTENT. Papaya Master! New from RONCO!

BurkinaMom said...

English. No translation slippage possible.
I did ask Alexa about it today. The Papaya Master is NOT advertised on late-night TV and nor does it make julienne fries effortlessly. It dispenses wisdom. Al explained that she and her twin had been discussing which boy to give the papayas to, because if you give one to a small child, the older ones might well snatch it away from him. He might even get roughed up in the process if he tries to hang on to his treasure. So, the Wisdom of the Papaya Master told the twins to give the fruit to a medium-sized boy, with instructions to share it with his friends. This kind of agreement is generally respected, as long as it is witnessed by all parties involved. So speaks the Papaya Master.

babzee said...

We are voting for the Papaya Master in the Democratic Primary in Georgia.