Discovering my true self in Africa By Tony Farrell

October 14, 2013

Meeting my African family

After having arrived in Po with Jonas Yogo the farmer, we started making stops at many different places. At these stops, we greeted the people. I soon came to learn that outside of the city, everyone greets everyone on arrival, on leaving, and even when passing. This greeting is a sign of respect for the individual and acknowledgement of coming into the presence of another person. It is done with a handshake, hello, direct eye contact and often a small bowing and a simple smile. Everyone was greeted in this manner – men, women, children, elders, clean, dirty, black skin or white skin. It was very warm and friendly and made me feel extremely welcome; I knew these people were glad I was with them.
Because I was not used to so many greetings, it was not long before I began to feel somewhat exasperated by dozens upon dozens of greetings in many different places over a short period of time. Soon enough however, I was thoroughly enjoying all the love that was being willingly poured out on me, and was readily reflecting it back. Together they were all like long lost family welcoming me home.
Jonas and I sat with a group of men at a tiny village restaurant for lunch. It seemed like it was just someone’s residence where the local people knew they could go buy a meal; there was no signage. Not being able to speak French or their native language, I was unable to communicate verbally. Therefore, I noticed many small details I may have otherwise missed.
There were two sets of tables and chairs under a large mango tree providing shade. There I was offered a Coke® or Fanta®, and I learned a whole routine regarding beverages. For example, nobody drank directly from the glass bottle. Instead, a small amount was poured into a cup to wash the bottom and then dumped on the ground before being filled again. The cap was kept on the bottle, and a small coaster covered the cup to keep bugs and dust out of it.
I had some trepidation regarding urinating because the custom was not clear to me, and Jonas explained “going to the corner” to me. I watched him go first, and then I followed after. I noticed that the pigs liked to sit on the ground right where our urine drained out of the pipe in the wall.
Our lunch was very laid back; mostly we just sat there together and enjoyed the company and the day. I also learned hand washing routines used before and after eating, where each person assisted the person sitting next to them. A chicken was butchered and cooked fresh for us, and it was served with a hot pepper spice and some vinegar for flavoring. The bones were thrown on the ground where the pigs that had been rolling in our urine came right up to our feet and ate them.
It was all so rustic and raw; I could not help but smile with appreciation.
Our next stop was Jonas Yogo’s farm nearby, where I would learn intimately about his own vision for a better life in Burkina Faso.
To be continued next week with “A Vision For Rural African Prosperity”
Tony Farrell started his current business venture, Farrell Marketing Technology LLC, in April of 2011. Over his lengthy career as an information technology entrepreneur, he has worked on tens of thousands of computers and helped dozens of business to have smooth running, efficient computer infrastructure and great looking web sites that generate more business through search engine optimization. In February 2012, Tony began intensive organic farming on a small scale in his living room, including vermicomposting and aquaponics systems, and he completed Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture program in May 2012. Tony is currently enrolled in the Milwaukee-based Victory Garden Initiative’s Food Leader Certificate Program and Permaculture Design Certificate Program and is building a local for-profit microgreen production business called Farmer Tony’s Mission Greens. Tony recently returned from a three week agricultural mission trip to Burkina Faso, marking his first foray into international work. This series tells the story of that journey.
Tony welcomes comments and feedback, and he may be contacted through his personal email address tony@farrellfamily.org