another water committee meeting - envisioning and planning [August 6, 2014]

I spent the following day, still filled with funeral activities, in a similar way – first at the archives and then into town where I would at last meet with the water committee. Already deep into a conversation in Hausa when I arrived, I glanced around the tailoring shop where we were all seated on smooth, wooden benches. The walls were a vivid blue and upon them were pasted advertisements of men wearing gowns with the text, “Men’s Desire” at the top. Awoken from my gaze at the poster, Hammad exclaimed, “Emily, let’s begin. I can see you are lost. You don’t understand what we are saying.” Having switched over to English, the committee proceeded to explain to me that they had begun the process of selecting this year’s ten beneficiaries. When I asked them to elaborate, Murtala said, “ You see, we are looking at a number of factors: those who are in need, those who participate, and those who have spent the time to fill the application. In addition, we have divided the Zongo into four zones.” He cut through the air with his hands and explained, “You see we have the zone close to the central mosque, the one close to Mallam Hammad’s, the one close to the road here, and finally the one on the other side of the road. It is important that every zone benefits from the project.” These discussions continued and surprising, yet promising comments surfaced such as the importance of The Chief Zongo attending the closing ceremony. “After all, we are doing this work for the community and he is the head – he ought to be there, one of them shouted. Another exclaimed, “Yes, and we must keep good records. It is very important. How else are we going to remember what we did the previous year?!” This observation was especially promising to me and could be added to a pile of other similar remarks made by the committee and residents this year. Rather than seeing the project as a “one time wonder” as they called it, they seemed to be solemnly committed to an envisioning of, and planning for, the Zongo’s future. (I’m hoping over the next couple of weeks that voices from those of the committee and other residents will be included in this journal.)

Finally after attending to agenda items such as the soap-making, logos for the rainwater collection containers, and Thursday’s sanitation meeting, I set off for the guesthouse. Later that night I received a phone call from Awal checking in about the day’s progress. Towards the end of our conversation, he asked me mischieviously, “Did you have chicken fingers for dinner tonight?”