Clean Water

A watertank under construction

Day 22: Election chaos

Well, today is the final day of village work and life - we have a few things to tidy up and people to meet once we return to Kumbo, but that's essentially it as far as fieldwork is concerned. I'm writing this at about 2pm in Njingarum, as we've been expecting a lift to Kumbo since 10am. ‘Expecting’ isn't really the right word, 10 was merely the agreed time. Guessing (correctly) that the car wouldn't be here on time, we set off for a 3-hour walk at 8, thinking we wouldn't leave until 12 at the very earliest, so we haven't wasted the morning.

The walk was rather good. I'd seen a hill from the house we're staying in which looked like it ought to have good views into the valley beyond. As the village was preoccupied with election preparations this morning, there wasn't anything very useful we could do, so we decided to head for the hill. We didn't reach it, but it was a good walk all the same.

After we'd returned from the walk, a number of people from the village came to say goodbye, and gave us a gift of a cockerel. It's wonderfully generous of them, but does pose something of a logistics problem! Hopefully it will survive the bumpy journey back to Kumbo...

Emmanuel (the third driver we've met with that name so far) arrived; we loaded ourselves and our bags into the car and set off for the long and fairly bumpy ride back. On the way, we stopped at a market near Kumbo, which was larger and more varied than the others we've seen so far. After returning to Kumbo, we dropped our bags at the Pastoral Centre and went straight to Tobin to for a debriefing chat and to start writing up our notes - in short, all the little bits and pieces that need sorting out at the end of a trip. Whilst there, Boniface (who we met at the RTC at Wvem, but who lives in Tobin) called in, and said we should call round at his house after we'd finished. We arranged to meet him at Tobin roundabout since his house is quite hard to find; however, we hadn't realised that there'd be an election rally for the opposition party taking place around the roundabout - we arrived to find it in full swing. Most people had arrived on motorbikes, and the main activity seemed to be riding around trying to cause as much noise as possible, and vying to see who could carry the largest chunk of tree on the back of a motorbike (or, in a couple of cases, on the front and back). It was dark by this time, and I could definitely sense a bit of tension in the air. As far as I could tell, it wasn't really directed at anyone, it was more just impatience, but it contrasted sharply with the general feel of Tobin on the other times we've been.

It took us an age to find a taxi leaving Tobin, since everyone was preoccupied with the rally, but eventually things calmed down and we found one going to Squares (the centre of Kumbo) - only to find another rally taking place there when we arrived! That one seemed much more like a 'proper' rally, with speeches from the candidates taking place on a balcony looking out over the central junction. We've finally made it back to the Pastoral Centre, after what feels like a very long day indeed.

Day 23: Finishing up

© Aidan Reilly 2013