Benin Togo Ethnic Groups Natitingou Benin West Africa Wednesday, September 27, 2006
An extremely pretty girl that was walking by the Auberge USA here in Natitingou, I am in the perfect Hotel for culture.
She is not Fon, but she says Dandi, what is Dandy? I get Sophi in the hotel to write down names, but she does not know how to spell them: Dindi Wama Ditamari None of these are in my encyclopedia facts…
I do not like the word tribe; I guess an ethnic group is best. I am in a puzzle; I find another piece of the puzzle daily. I am surrounded by pieces of the puzzle. The pieces are people, real human, laughing and feeling, often blasé or passive. Mostly not paying attention to the white man unless they are children.
Ethnology or Cultural Anthropology: Somewhere in these words is probably the study of the pieces of the puzzle I am encountering.
I am saying Benin, Togo, I know they are crossing over the line, it is not just Benin, nobody here cares where they live, or how someone defines them.
THE LOOK Of all the photos I wish I would have taken, of all the faces or ways of looking I wish I had taken, it the photos of the look of a country. I laugh when I see the face of Wesley Snipes here in Africa, they way he move or purse his lips, I have seen it here.
I wish I had capture and taken the photo of the look of all the countries I have visited, I can see them in my minds eye; however, I wish to remember them with a photo. Only time in country can give you the knowledge of the look.
Every country, area, sub-group may have a unique aspect to their look. They look like this, or that, I can not tell so much Japan from Korea, however I know I will eventually be able to do so, however it takes time to see the look. I can spot an Ecuador person in the middle of Spain, I can see the look, the face, the body structure.
This girls above, strolling happily by the Hotel, caught me, she has the modern little curls that is not ethnic related, probably a modern style of West Africa for sure, the head covering may be Islamic, there is no guarantee, however something. The look is the face, the tattoo in the center, the two little white dots caught my attention. She has a roundness of the nose, the girl in Bassila had this nose, the cheeks are special high.
I am looking at you and you are looking at me…
For close to 10 years, everyone stares at me, it is normal, I know you are looking at me, so what? I am Indiana friendly in a Howdy sort of way… This couple with my guilt, I believe if you look at me, I look at you, then you need a Hello from me, an Indiana Howdy.
Here it is Bonjour or Bonsoir, the Bonjour is for morning here, and the Bonsoir is for afternoon. If I wish to be less form or add a little spice on the end of the hello. I say, Sa VA Or Comment Sa va The bad part is this is typical, very normal, like saying, what’s up, but I never find it in my dictionary or phrases.
You are looking at me, I will try to not look at you…
This is a great way to not see or observe anything, I am too much, I look, I will stare, I will make faces at people. I will work the crowd, flirt, play, have fun, joke and do many things. They want me to eat fish and you can see the I-hate-fish-look, the universal language pop out on my face.
Getting the photos is many thing, up close and personal is complicated, it takes all the charm I can muster sometimes, and this does not mean the photo is good. The want to pose like anybody, they cannot stop themselves. Nobody can, except a model maybe…
To study a culture the sense of self I have, the sense of guilt, the sense of introspection I have, the pauses, the stopping myself from being part of the culture has to stop. I must not be afraid to be with them, I am good man, or bad man, according to how you think. The taxi drivers will crack, when I say in French, look a good looking girl. The universal appreciation and door opener, something in common phrase. Many use beer, but changes the dynamics and put on take and give too much basis, people will do anything to get a drink or act, behave or misbehave, mock, etc.
There has to be no higher or lower in the relationship, equals meeting on the playing field. I see so many people not approach people as equals, it is humorous to watch. I want to say, this is a person, just like you, just different, do not patronize. I do not allow them to patronize me.
PATRONIZE: - condescending to: to treat somebody as if he or she were less intelligent or knowledgeable than yourself.
INGRATIATE Ingratiate: - seek to please somebody: to try to enter somebody’s favor, especially in order to gain an advantage
I am not sure how to explain, there is a sucking up, or sucking down, pretending to be the same, or pretending dumber or smarter. Annoying to me to feel the suck, the kiss me, the want to make me happy to make some money. The pretentiousness and unreal, unauthentic emotional interchange.
Like some fat rich lady walking into a diamond shop, who care, you are still fat and ugly…. And you will wake up that way.
Tourist by nature are not in the moment, they are distancing themselves for protection. The other side is the girls or people will cuddle up, like they are all your best friend.
Lining them up… These are some young French girls studying to be nurses here in Benin. They was walking hand in hand with a group of children, easy to do here if you wish. I call this the lining them up, get the photo, keep it running.
These girls are genuinely nice girls, they are playing and be good, however a tourist take this and makes it annoying. To study a culture, to understand the culture, the wall has to drop.
A map of major Ethnic Groups in West Africa.
Fon Fanti Mina are the one I have encountered. The difference between language and the ethnic group is not obvious separated.
Names, but not complete, the subtle difference, the transition, the slow roll over from one area to another, the blending, the overlay of religions on the top. The words they speak the small subtle looks are the clues, but to see the broad picture, how does one travel and see all of them, most person only at best see a snapshot view of one country and one small part. To see the rainbow, a person must travel over the rainbow and into all the shades of the rainbow.