by Sr, Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 13.02.2024
Recently I came across this story in an early MMM magazine, and it brought back many memories for me, not of Africa, but of the rural areas of Northeast Brazil.
“I still marvel at some of the customs here in Nigeria, and indeed I envy some if them! Our well is at the bottom of a steep incline. My small boy and I take our pails, like Jack and Jill, and go down the hill for water. I almost have to get down on all fours to get down to the well or to get up the hill again. Then my “small boy” comes swaying along with a four-gallon tin on his head, saunters down the hill, and as leisurely returns with the tin full on his head, not spilling a single drop. He just as easily carries on his head a bottle of medicine or a weighty box or baggage you or I could not move. The women carry the baby in a basket on their heads while the little boys set off for school in gleaming white shirt and pants, complete with slate and in bottle on their heads. Everything is carried on their heads; everything is safe there.” (Sr. M. Elizabth)
This story reminded me that some customs are universal and surely must come out of “best practice”. How best to distribute weight than to let the whole body carry it, not just the arms? I remember once seeing a very poor woman at the side of the road, trudging along with a huge stalk of bananas on her head. Her hands were free, so she was talking animatedly into her cell phone as she trudged along! That is the clash of two different civilisations, I thought at the time. Not I see it differently. It is someone taking the best of the past wisdom and combining it with technological advances.
Recently our world is in conflict again, with wars and “trouble spots” arising. Can we not learn from the wisdom of our peace-making forebearers and find new paths of peace?