Niger Travel Stories, Page 8

Africa Enslaved by Love

Africa Enslaved by Love
The work of the NGOs

A Child in Zermou, Niger.

There is a baby born in Africa, that will never work, will never feel the inner warmth of a doing a great days works, coming home to his family and saying to his wife,
“It was a good day, I built a bridge, I conquered the world, and I killed the lion.”

There will be no beating of the drum in this boys life, there will be no admiration of the women as this proud young man walks around head raised high, strutting and shining, today I was a man. This boy, this man will raise his hand, look at you today with sad and pouting eyes, you have more than I have, please give me money.

Are you missing an eye, are you legs no good, is there some reason your life is so sad, what can I do, what do you need, how has the world hurt you so bad, you need to beg of me. I am a working man, same as you, I worked all day, I save my money, I have much, however I also work for this money you now want. I will give you my left arm, my right arm; I will share with you my good fortune. I am your brother, your father, I am you friend, I will give you hope, I will give they promise of a great future, why do you beg?

The boy in the middle is a beggar, I do not believe he will ever work.

I have walked the streets of Niger, the cities of Niamey, Maradi, Zinder, and Agadez many people walk up to me, they look at me, and some are crippled. I am a strange looking man in a foreign land, I am sure they are curious, I have blue eyes, they have brown, they have black skin, I have white, I am a strange person. They are curious, I am curious, we look at each other, I try to say hello, I can say hello in so many ways, with my eyes, with my way of being a good person.

A little girl, a little boy walks up, I bend over to shake their hand, they shake my hand, a crippled riding these clever three-wheeled chairs comes over to my path, stops near me says hello and waves. I say hello, I continue to walk, they all look at me, and I am wondering, I see the pout in their eyes, I am not sure, and what do you want? And then, one child puts out his hands, money, I give small coins to the handicapped man, I check the body of the young boy, two legs, two arms, all his eyes, mind seems alert, he is a boy, he will be a man, I will give you nothing, I will not make you a slave.

These are the hope of Niger, these are the children, and these are the bright and shining stars of the future of Africa.

The world has beggars that are a fact, there are people that would rather sit on the corner, sit in the welfare line, sit in the unemployment line, saying give me free money.

I am lost in Niger, I thought I had encountered ever type of beggar, prostitute, and persons wanting my money whether by good or bad intentions, the world is a clever place, and they want my money. However yesterday and today, I will meet a new person in the street, a person that assumes I know him or her, a person that does not ask for money, who will assume I already know they are a beggar.

I am angry, who did this to them, who made them a slave, who taught them this, who gave them money, who told them they are poor, who made them a beggar.

Who stole their pride, who purchased it for small change?
Was it you?

Somebody walked up to these people and gave them money, food, a place to sleep, they did not ask, they did not beg, they were made a beggar. You want to give me money, why would I not take it, if you are stupid enough to give me your money, then I will take it, you are such a silly rich man.

This worked yesterday, it worked today, and it will work tomorrow.
Today I take the easy way.

Yes, I am a sad person, I have nothing, I am told each day, I am poor, they are rich, I will take the money, the food, I will take what you give me and yes I will come tomorrow and I will take again, I am your slave.

I went to the village of Zermou, Niger approximate 40 Kilometers from Zinder a place where mal-nutrition is killing the children under five. The Doctor of the village said 47 children have been taken to the hospital. This is a village abundant in food, however lacking in the proper balance of Fruits, Vegetables, Nutrients, and Vitamins.

While I walk around this wonderful small Africa community, I am followed by a flock of small children, some adults, all are curious. I say hello, I nod my head, and shake one hand, then another, then I find I am surrounded shaking all the hands, they are pulling and tugging, they are all holding my hands, my arms, they are hugging me. Life is good; I have met a new people, proud and happy.

I kneel, I look into those big brown eyes, and yes, you are a beautiful child, so full of energy and love. She reaches out, she is timid, she touches my hair, I allow her to see that I am safe, she has never touched blond hair, she stares into my blue eyes, and I stare into hers. We are friends, now another touches my hair, they all run and push, they wish to touch my hair, I want them to touch me, I want them to know, I am real, the world is a good place, it is a safe place.

I love this young girls eyes, she is Africa, she is its future, she is a person young and brave, adventurous and curious, She was the first to meet the new world entering her village, she said hello, we are friends. She is my new friend, we are equals, we share a smile, she is smart, quick and ready to learn.

I am afraid, I will not return, it would break my heart, it would make me cry, I would never be the same, if I returned one year from now and this girl looked at me and said,
“Give me money.”

She may say to me in the future,
“I never knew I was poor until you told me, I thought I was the daughter of a proud man, the granddaughter of a proud man, a proud mans daughter.”

I entered the village of Zermou, Niger, I did not take, I did not give, I did not meet any poor people in Zermou. If your vision of the world is to tell them they are poor, rob them of their pride, enslave them with your good intentions, rob them of their hope, then I would rather they die, better to die a with pride.

First do no harm, do not remove this look from her eyes, please leave her alone, do not touch her, do not hurt her, she is ok, she is just is living in a different place, she is not poor, it is not your world, it is hers.

Niger is eating only five to ten types of foods, the world is coming and telling them they are poor, I found no poor people, however I am going to tell them, please start growing more vegetables, fruits, and other types of crops.

Eat you veggies it will make you big and strong, my mother told me this a long time ago. Please, as your friend, I encourage you, please tell your children and your neighbors eat your veggies.

One moment of perfection, as the village of Zermou, Niger says goodbye.

It is a Business

It is a Business
7:05 AM Saturday September 17, 2005

I am on a convoluted trip into the culture of Niger and the NGOs that are inside the country. Long story however the Hotel I was staying in had reservations so I need to change, the Hotel situation in Niamey is maybe bleak, the backpacker level hotel either do not exist or they are full of NGO people and the NGOs are pay double the money.

I met a girl from Germany outside my Hotel as I was leaving to find another, she offered to give me a ride to a Hotel Manadew the guard recommended, so she took me there, there was a room for 15,000 Niger Francs that I would not live in, this is 30 U.S. Dollars and this is crazy. She instantly knew this was crazy and offered a place on the couch for a couple or days. I am now in another rich person’s home, the Girl is not rich, and however the Veterinaries without Borders are rich.

This is not a Rich person the Veterinary however for sure in comparison to the normal person in Niger they are very rich homes.

Today I avoid people again if possible, I accidentally learned or was involved in the Soap Opera or listening to a Soap Opera of a Development Corporation.

I went with the group last night to a bar in Niamey, a very large bar full of people drinking beer and partying, mostly men.

I met an extremely smart and Knowledgeable Black Man born in the country of Haiti, somehow married to a Belgium girl and now working for a Netherlands something. It was a bar, very noisy and hard to talk, so somewhat difficult, he is the boyfriend now of one of the German girls.

I am trying my best to not give too good of details.

Nonetheless, Marmadew wants or is joking with me to learn French, I said, if I want to learn about Niger, I will learn,
- Hausa -

There are about 10-15 Million Hausa people and they live mostly in Niger and Niger, the border between the Nigeria City of Kano and the City of Maradi is more or less one link between the same people.

“Hausa Language, the main language of Niger and the northern parts of Nigeria, and commonly spoken in other parts of West Africa where groups of Hausa people have traveled for trade.

Hausa serves as a localized lingua franca — enabling peoples of different languages to communicate with one another. Like Swahili, Hausa features many words of foreign extraction: many Arabic loan-words appear, as the result of Islamic conquests, as well as many English words.-(2)”

This seems to prompt the Boyfriend of the German girl to action and he started to quiz me on what I was doing in Niger. I said,
- I am a tourist -

The only one and he proceeded to say there is a season tourist time in Niger, which I think, starts about October 22 when the planes start flying from France to Agadez, Niger.

He is learning Hausa and I told him he is on the path to understanding Niger. The American Peace Corp has a good reputation with the locals here on the Hausa Language, Marmadew from Niamey and Rabi from Zinder both commented,
- The Peace Corp refuses to speak French or English, I must talk Hausa with them. -

This is good, they also will be here for 27 weeks or about two years, maybe one of the only groups of people that will know anything about the culture or capable of learning the culture of Niger.

The NGOs and Peace Corp, the Development Companies have many students just out of University with zero life experiences.

I am getting a little closer to learning the solution to the Mal-Nutrition problem here in Niger. This is aggravating me as this is the reason for the existence of all these groups and nobody can answer. The man I spoke with last night I believe may have the answers, however I was not able to talk or did not talk on this subject, we were talking across a round table in the middle of a large bar. He is for sure the first person that is studying the culture of Niger.

Essentially, you cannot help a culture to learn if you do not understand the motivations of the culture.

I was frustrated with one of the German girls Jessica as she tried to tell me inside the Hotel I was living.
- The people of Niger cannot say no. -

This is about lesson number one I learned maybe 7-8 years ago, a poor culture would try to make you happy. Whether the save face of Thailand or the Manana Syndrome of Mexico and all of the Spanish world. The German culture does this by not talking.

This means about anything another culture says about their culture is suspect and maybe 50/50 wrong. Observations and collaboration of behaviors is the only true way of learning, however then you go to another region and this could change, you are dealing in Tribal or Ethnic differences here, interesting the man last night tried to delineate or explain the difference between Ethic and Tribal. That is a conversation I would not fight about unless I have a dictionary and encyclopedia in my hands, or my computer.

Conversation Stop
I had a conversation of the last hour with the one German girl in the House, it is becoming evident that many organizations already know the solutions and do not implement any of them. The conversation on one aspect was about the problem of translators, she said is common knowledge that translators cause mis-interpretation of problems and yet they all almost demand to use them or the local Niger workers.

I find that a rich person or a translator are the two biggest problems maybe with learning a culture, I suppose the only solution to learn a culture is you must speak the local language and never talk with anyone that wishes to talk with you or makes money by talking with you. Moreover, anyone that would have any advantage by discussing any topic, this pretty much removes the ability to talk; maybe the only way to learn is observations.

It’s a business, this is the comment I have heard about five times in Niger about NGOs and I heard it again last night.

HDI Human Development Index

I am trying to figure out how the Business of NGOs figure out their targets.

I found a PDF of the report from I believe the United Nations, and it is a PDF, I do not like PDF they do not work in internet cafes good, sometime though.

Here is what I think is a private site, making money by placing it up, and this is ok also.


Note this is a pretty good guide or way to evaluate the safety of the country you want to visit, as it does have many categories.

I would only use this as a guide, fun to see who is doing good also in the minds of a liberal save the planet, hug a tree world.

Thinking too much about Niger

I touched a sweet spot in my friends brain today and she got mad, strangely I said the cattle or Steers in the USA were of better quality than the range fed beef of Niger.

Nonetheless she was very angry, however the bottom line is I think there was an underlying problem that she is dealing, the essential question I am asking.

Should the NGOs and Development countries be in the country, are they doing anything? I think she is mad because I am questioning the value of her work, however worst, she is questioning the value.

There are many NGOs that have been here for over 10 years and some I have heard as high as 15, I am sure there is more accurate data, however I cannot be bothered, they are everywhere and this problem is an old problem. They do not look like they will ever leave to me.

It may be the greatest source of non-farm jobs in the country, working for an NGO or Development Company.

I have a guy who posted on my blog and I wrote, he is very clear on some issues and probably writes more clear than me. I am not sure he read between the lines totally correct, however he is on the right path, therefore ok with me on his interpretations of my writing. I wish I was clear, then I could say if he was right or wrong.

I am 85 percent in favor of all the NGOs leaving and 15 percent for them staying, today, Septemeber 17, 2005.

However it could change, I did learn a big reason yesterday why the do not grow vegetables, these are Cattle men, it is not in their social status or it is like asking a Cattle man from Texas to grow Cucumbers, he is not going to like the idea.

All ideas have merit, some more than others.

Pelle is part of the solution, I suppose he is a person I would want in a think tank problem solving task force... hehehe

This guy is not happy with the NGOs either.,1518,363663,00.html

I am still waiting, day 16 of being in Niger and I am not sure what type of veggies and fruit they need to eat in Niger to be healthy. Plus of course we need a list that will grow in Niger.

Leaving Niger After Malnutrition

I will leave Niger soon, I am not clear about what I see in Niger, I cannot say that I am happy about the aid being given to Niger, it may be destroying more than it is helping.

I am going to delay sending my newsletter and think more, sort out my feelings, I see little effective good being done here to solve problems, I do see many people with good intentions, however for sure the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I am lost; 15 plus days in this country and I still do not know what foods these people need to eat to be healthy, I see food everywhere, I see money spent on cigarettes, motorcycles, cell phones, and other products, there is money to buy seeds to grow ... I do not know ... Mangos, Dates, Olives, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, Carrots, Peppers, Lemons etc.

These are foods that grow in places like here, I do not see many here, some... there is a need for Vegetables, Fruits, and some types of foods to be grown here, I do not see signs that say, grow these foods, buy these foods, or your children will be sick. I see on every corner a sign that says an NGO.

I have seen signs that say not to cook and breath the smoke, there are world projects to stop the cooking over open flames in enclosed spaces.

The people that are hurt or are involved in the Malnutrition do not read, I would guess about 5 percent of the problem family read.

The Proper Balance

I am sort of sad today, Niamey is really getting on my nerves, I keep asking myself...

Why should a person go to Niger?

Why should a person go to Niger?

Why should a person go to Niger?

To see a camel?

Most people are not going to care about meeting people in a village and eating hot Yogurt milk out of bowl, they want a more glamourous lifestyle.

I am in this made-for-NGOs hotel or boarding house, it is very nice, and cheap 6000, that is about 12 Dollars U.S. and in Thailand I would be in the D & D with a Swimming Pool for the same.

However it has a kitchen, I opened the fridge door and the fridge is full of Beer, and a few vegetables which is good.

My thought, what am I doing here, I am helping people to learn about Niger. This is an good Islamic country that does not drink, smokes cigarettes a lot, and is not radical.

However they are poor and they do not need to learn how to drink, in the Jangorzo Hotel in Maradi the locals Niger people were watching American Music Videos, drinking beer, the thought comes to me.

-First do no harm.

-First do no harm.

The NGOs are bring their bad habits along with them, this place will be a catastrophy if they learn to drink like South America or Asia.

Am I helping or hurting this country, I do not like to do something I am not sure of, so the only safe thing would to say not to come.

Hiding in Niger

Hiding in Niger
5:01 PM September 15, 2005

I have lost all desire to explore or to think about Niger, like my friend John said,
- Think Beaches -

I cannot move around outside my room without learning to hate Niger. Niamey is not my favorite city, hard to say where is better, I suppose Zinder or Maradi, however for sure Niamey is over the edge, it is a beggar city and they believe they have the right to take my money for any reason they can think of, they are totally lacking in pride.

I am going to try to publish the 500 plus photos I have of Niger and leave for nicer places, the NGOs as best I can tell have destroyed this country for tourism, now they have no choice.

Organizational Frustrations

Organizational Frustrations
2:36 PM Thursday September 15, 2005

I am in Niamey; I have a three to four day window of time where my world is going to be calm. I am vowing to myself to leave my camera in the room so I do not take photos and make more work for myself. Every photo I takes creates more work, because for you to understand the photos I need to place a caption below the photo.

Contrary to what you may think or believe or misjudge, for every photo taken and places on the blog about 10 more or different ones are placed in the newsletter photo galleries, therefore if you are looking for photos the blog is the wrong place to see many photos, you need to read the newsletters or at least click on the photos.

I just noticed or trying to reread a page a blog, I wrote about cultural testing I have discovered that there is part of another post accidentally within the post. I have somehow copied and pasted them together…. Mistakes.

I am sometimes only having the ability to cut, paste, and publish the blog; I do not have time to sit around reading. I sometime am worried that some part of the Internet connection is going to break before I can publish, so there is a need for speed, that is converse to quality. I have a choice, I must clean house and prepare for my next pages of journal entries.

Constantly I am saying to myself, write about what you are thinking in your own mind and never remember that someone else could be reading. I keep hoping that more intellectual people will read the blog and post comments that help me to learn. There is a macho world out there that says to open you mind, to keep the door open to learn, to admit that you do not know everything already is to say or admit you are stupid. I am many times annoyed by emails that go on and on telling me how to do something they are too afraid to do or too ignorant to do, like somehow the person knows how to do what the person that is doing it does not. How can a person that is not doing something know more than a person that is doing something? You cannot read yourself into knowing more than the person doing something.

I guess if I want the right to be an expert on Iraq, I need to go to Iraq.

I guess if I want the right to en an expert on Niger, I need to go to Niger.

I guess if I want to even be a player in the world of knowledge, I have to enter the game. I go places now so I will know; I just want my foot on first base so I know I have a right to be a player. The right to talk, to say, to claim knowledge is a difficult proposition. I am sometimes thinking that everything written about Niger is written outside the country by people that have never been in the country. This is a travesty of sorts, a way of writing that makes it impossible to prove or disprove you writing. Take a subject that nobody can go and disprove or approve without being there.

BBC can make Headline News, the world can view, and who can prove they are just plane jerks, making up some great headlines to appear like they know. I am under the impression they no longer care about the truth, the great headline is all they want.

Is there a way to bring back or create persons with the ability to write honestly or is the desire for more money the only desire in the world?

I cannot stay organized, however I know I am better and create more than 99 percent of people. I however have a battle with myself to win, Andy get more organized.

Then again, I earn the same, more or less, who cares…