What’s Wrong with this Picture? 

As many of you have joked with me, the ultimate goal of “living off the land” takes more time to achieve than one might think. Especially when said land is The Motherland. Up- and re-rooting the earth’s foundation is tough! People ask what we’re growing I’m our garden but for now we’re just trying to build the beds. 

In the meantime, Momo and I have been eating a lot of porridge. Porridge comes in many forms around the world but here in West Africa it mostly consists of little balls of ground millet powder. In Mali, at least in and around the Dogon cliffs, the millet is ground and the balls are formed by hand. Many of you who have been to Mali know it well as every Dogon household has some prepared for hungry passers-by and children. Here in Senegal the millet is ground by machine and thus the balls are small and consistently round whereas in Mali they’re variable; sometimes the lucky surper gets an especially big one. The porridge is combined with sugar when available, and fresh milk if you’re quite lucky. Again, here, we mix it with packaged powdered milk. We were getting bored of it so we decided to add some locally ground peanut butter.

I’m a big fan of peanut butter from ask countries. Amongst the stuff I shipped from London were some empty containers that I want to use eventually for canning fruits. One of which was an empty peanut butter tub from London. We’re currently using it to keep the ants out of the sugar so it was also on the table last night as we were having our peanut butter and porridge dinner. 

Additionally sent in the box of garden supplies and empty jars from London were a pair of binoculars I purchased prior to watching my first opera with Catherine. My dad had given me a much more sophisticated pair as a graduation gift from graduate school but I unfortunately inadvertently left them in Burkina Faso (anyone reading this blog of late will notice the my trend of leaving a trail of belongings across the globe as I travel). As it happened, the simple binoculars were also atop the table at the time.

Momo was reading the label of the peanut butter container which being from the Alara health food store near SOAS, proclaims only naturally occurring ingredients, and no palm oil. To this end, they feature a happy monkey holding a banana, sitting atop a palm tree.

Momo glances from the binoculars with which we’d been watching Kunja’s now multiplied family of monkeys swing between rain drops through the branches to the palm trees, which have no branches from which a monkey could swing, to Bamba’s prolifically producing permaculture banana trees, which the monkeys never go near, and then back to the porridge when he asks, “what’s wrong with palm oil?”


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