Peasant Autonomy
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Story 138

Burkina Faso – 1986

'Don't worry'

“Oh, Issa, what kind of man are you, anyway? It's going to be all right, but just have a little patience. Mother and I are helping you, and Father surely will come around. You know how he is, he cannot remain angry for long.” Ashamed, the strapping young man in his plain shirt bows his head. After a little while he looks warmly at the pretty, thin-faced woman. “You are right, Bentu,” he says softly, “I will hide here in the bushes.” “Promise me that you will not run away,” she says earnestly, only to laugh heartily a moment later, when she sees how contrite her friend looks. Relieved, he takes a deep breath. That's how he knows Bentu, cheerful, like always.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Treeaid)

Burkina Faso.

After a long, difficult time, the parents of Bentu decided to leave the village where their families had lived for generations. It was quite a big step, but there was no other possibility. It had been bone-dry there during the last several years. Nothing would grow there any more. Bentu had to walk so far every day to fetch water. Once a month a big government truck came to bring rice. That was not a way to live. One day, just after the distribution of the food, the family loaded some goods on their old donkey cart, and left the village.
Issa, Bentu’s friend, soon followed after the family, and was received warmly. A strong worker was more than welcome. In a nearby town, Bentu’s father sold the cart and the donkey, and with that money they were driven away in a pick-up truck to the west as far as possible. After that, they walked and walked until they arrived in a green region, where they settled down. They built some simple huts, and started cultivating the land. There was enough rain, and after a few months the maize had grown up beautifully.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Hugues)

Burkina Faso.

“Put your hand on my belly,” Bentu softly says to Issa, and again she has to laugh. “Father was so angry when he found out that I was pregnant, that he drove you away. But I will bring you some rice from time to time, and you can catch fish in the river. Mother is very fond of you. She will work around Father. Don't worry.”


Yam Daboo (1986) from the Burkinabé film-maker Idrissa Ouédraogo, depicts beautifully the life of peasants who make a fresh start.

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= the next page: The garlic rebellion - Shandong Province, China – 1986, story 139.
= the Table of contents, story 138.