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Children of the peasant farmer Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Rashid, Canada Apr 5, 2007
Human Rights , Education   Opinions


The trees were tall above me, the sun was warm against my face and I marveled at the blues and greens as I walked slowly through the bush. I was on my way to visit a friend in the remote and seldom visited third village Young Peace Brigades works with. The village is called Nyame Bekyere, which can be translated as 'God will provide'.

I passed by low, shady cocoa trees and tall skinny maize; small plantains at the top of their fast growing trunk were slowly ripening. I greeted people walking along machete in hand wearing dirty farm clothes. Some of the people I saw had green plantain and brown cassava in a basket on their head, returning home to boil it and pound it into sticky fufu for their dinner. I realised with horror that in a little over a week when I need ingredients for my dinner I will be going to the bright lights and aisles of the supermarket.

I heard a child crying and I turned to see three children in the middle of a field of felled trees and burnt undergrowth. I picked a route through the weeds to investigate and I found three children of the village: a little sister crying, complaining that her brother had hit her; brother saying his little had been fooling; elder sister tying up the wood they had gathered for the evening fire with natural twine.

Further on through the bush I heard someone call 'Mr. Robert!' I looked to my side and there was a little boy waving at me from a rock. I went to say hello. I knew the boy from school; he was in Primary 2 and also called Robert so I spoke to him in English.
'What are you doing?'
'Rice. I chase the birds.'
I saw now he was sitting with a catapult guarding his family's field of grains.
'What time did you come here?'
He didn't understand.
'Wo ba daben? Anopah?'
'I come here six.'
'What did you eat?'
He didn't reply.
'Wo di dien?'
He still didn't reply. Probably he hadn't eaten much, if anything at all, and he'd been there all day keeping his eyes keen for the birds. I gave him a high five and said he should ask his father for food.

I was touched by the beauty of Africa, amazed that people of the world live such different lives, more wondrous still that I knew I would be leaving this beautiful remoteness for concrete Britain. When I walked through the bush that day and saw the children on the farms what I saw was hope, and I saw hope because it was so easy to imagine my despair if Young Peace Brigades had never arrived, my despair if there had never been a school, my despair if these children had been sold into a life of fetching firewood and guarding rice fields forever.

By Rashid Zuberu



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