11. THE GARDEN OF THE FRENCH

The French have always been a nation of idealists, and nowadays they are working hard to repair the injustices of society. In Africa they are trying to revolutionize other’s people societies to make them as perfect as theirs.

And the French love women …
Idealists and loving women…
This is why they decided to help the women in Africa to get their rights, by giving them economic independence and freedom them from traditional male supremacy.
It is a revolutionary project, which springs from the great secular republican tradition of the French revolution, and from the great principles that have made France a beacon of civilization for the entire world.

tour effel - 11. THE GARDEN OF THE FRENCH

The problem with the French, however, is that they do not think very much before acting. They are impulsive. Whenever they act it is already too late, they are too busy for thinking.

The French also love women, it is also a problem because if by chance there is a beautiful lady around, they do not think about anything else, they just act.
God probably loves the French and wants that they breed, and I must say that the world loves the French as they are as well, even though they are as they are.

In Timbuktu, I saw the result of their civilizing action. It showed their way of conceiving social revolution in the Third World, from project design offices in Paris up to the execution of it in the desert of Mali.

The women of the village formed a union, as they all do in Timbuktu, because it is the only way to get the help of NGOs. They borrowed land close to the village from the municipality to grow vegetables.
The French decided to make three wells in the field. They like to do things big. They built 3 large diameter wells, each capable of producing 11 cubic meters of water an hour. It is such a huge amount of water that it would be enough to make an oasis with streams flowing continuously.

Really, only one well would have been enough, but when one is enough, why not make three? The logic is impeccable.
They even hired an agricultural engineer as consultant to monitor the project, so that the women would have all the necessary assistance to ensure success. He is Ibrahim, my well digger.

ibrahim - 11. THE GARDEN OF THE FRENCH

They then forbade the people of the village to come to the wells to take water, in order to protect the progressive performance of the agricultural project and they also paid a guard to ensure that nobody stole the water.
Since they did not built a well in the village, people have to walk great distances to bring back some water to their home.

Gardening is a job that requires time and also hard physical work. Just ask any farmer or even a Sunday digger. In the desert then, cultivation involves a daily commitment and constant watering; plants cannot remain without water longer than a few hours otherwise they die.

So what should women do? They have to look after the children, prepare food for their family, and wash clothes (by hand with water brought from long distances). Should they then also dig, plant, and on top of that go to the market to sell their vegetables?
But the problem is far more serious; The French did not think of pumps! The wells have mounted pulleys and buckets instead. The wells only produce 11 cubic meters per hour! How could women pull water with their arm strength all day? To obtain sufficient water, they would have to do the work of donkeys and camels. Such great freedom …


Ibrahim is explaining the situation
see the children pulling the water

The result is very sad, because it is clear that they can only draw a minimum amount of water in this cornucopiae. I’ve never seen gardens so miserable. Women work with their ill children on their backs; they do not earn any money and, on top of it all, struggle like jackasses.

But they should be grateful to have been freed by the French people and to have gained economic independence from the male society.

jardin francais1 - 11. THE GARDEN OF THE FRENCHThe garden of the French

The result is even less alluring when compared with the lushing green gardens of the Americans.

The American garden

The outcome of the battle of ideals is clear. The American Baptists, animated by religious faith created a titanic work, while the secular nature of the Republic has given birth to a handicapped child.

Gentlemen of the French NGO, my fellow citizens, it seems like what was really important for you was to merely justify a nice idealistic project on paper in order to spend the money that you were given for charity. And then to grab a salary, without concern for reality and what actually happens on the field.

But these women are human beings, you would never accept for your wives and your daughters what you have imposed on these women.

Why do you not install a wind pump on one of these wells, 600 liters of water per hour with a breeze of 4 meters per second, which is the average in Timbuktu. The cost would only be a quarter of that of a single well, 4000 euro more, a month of your salary? This would have completed the project and actually helped these women. Then again, if there is so much water, why not allow people to draw it for their homes?

I know that, when it comes to women, the French lose their heads, but you have always been people of the heart, so, please, correct the uncomfortable situation that you have created for the inhabitants of this village.

Previous episode: The people of Bokiat

Next episode: The court of Timbuktu

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