Before the age of mobile phones and instant communication, Ian was working on the development of water resources along the southern fringes of the Sahara, based in Upper Volta. To escape the incessant bureaucracy and problems associated with living in the capital, he moved to a small village and bought a plot of land and a derelict mud hut which he restored. Part of the land became an airfield for the light plane he used as his long range transport and he set about cultivating the rest whilst working with the villagers to restore and deepen their dried up wells. From time to time he travelled to neighbouring countries to inspect and oversee other development projects. He also managed a well digging school which he had started to train men how to dig, deepen and repair wells in their own communities.
Desmond was an office based colleague from London who was going to visit another development project in Nigeria. He stopped off en route for a visit and wanted to find out why Ian had abandoned the capital and moved to this isolated location. Never having been to Africa before, he got a severe case of culture shock which involved a snotty nosed little boy who wouldn’t let go of his hand, a selection of engaging characters who were Ian’s neighbours and a witch-doctor who looked into his soul.
Desmond’s trip to Nigeria had unexpected and dramatic results. As well as revealing the devious dealings behind the problem that had brought him there, the experience frightened him badly and sent him scurrying back to Ian’s village, ill and unaware that he was under the influence of some dark and mysterious forces.
Under the tender ministrations of the inscrutable witch-doctor, aided by the neighbour’s second wife, Desmond recovered slowly and began to appreciate the variety and complexities of African life. He learned about the local bureaucracy, endured a plague of locusts and the pestilence of a million fleas and adapted to village life as the rainy season began.
When his health improved he worked with Ian and the villagers on the village well, training a team of masons to mix good concrete for the lining and descending into the bowels of the earth himself. He accompanied Ian on visits to a number of other development projects, including a visit to the well digging school in Mali and a nearby agricultural school. This was run by an old Belgian priest who spent his lunch hours listening to Beethoven on a wind-up gramophone whilst sitting in a deck chair beneath a hippopotamus skull that was perched on the hen coop wall.
Attacked by another bout of tropical fever, Desmond’s return to London was further delayed and he returned to Ian’s mud hut again. As he recovered from this he saw Ian cultivate his fields with a donkey powered plough, then helped plant the crop. He participated in a village festival, dancing with his new found friends and watching their energetic and chaotic bicycle races. Despite his initial reservations Desmond made some good friends among the village artisans and became a particular favourite of the enigmatic Wa-wa man.
Desmond returned to London to tell lurid and dramatic tales of his adventures, leaving Ian in his mud hut to continue the work. Eventually Ian too moved on, to Zaïre and another mud hut, but that is another tale.
This book will immerse you in the harsh daily life of Anéhigouya’s villagers and introduce you to some lively and fascinating people. It opens a window on the reality of life in rural Africa and the trials its people face and somehow overcome on a daily basis. It lets you feel why Africa is so timeless and needs time to adapt to the modern age.
General sales enquiries: GTPR Ltd, (+44) 1295 770207, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org