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It is a Business

2005-09-18 05:40:00

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.