Friday, December 16, 2011

Cowrie shells and the unknown!

Cowrie shells play an intimate role in west African society as it is often referred to as a source of divination since they play a part on the rituals and beliefs of many religions in the region.

The general pattern followed is that a number of shells are cast upon the ground after the practitioner invokes and saluted Orishas - a spirit. The pattern of the then cast shells are interpreted to convey a message.

In the recent past, out of curiosity I've gone and sat down with a couple of readers in the vicinity of Ouaga, one an elderly woman who is called by one and all as "Tanti" (Aunty) and the other an old man who lives in a mud hut a few km away in a little village.

The messages conveyed have been quite interesting to hear - and let me tell you that in both instances my decision to go see them were made on the spot, leaving no time for my guide to fill anyone up with any details about me.

Of the two however, the old man has impressed me the most nt only for the telling but for what he can do. Twice he's demonstrated something which I have absolutely no idea how he does it, even though I have tried to keep a close eye upon the ensuring events.

The first 'wonder' was when he fashioned a ring out of a piece of string, wrapped it up in a ball of paper and lit it up. Allowing it to burn for a few minutes he then extracted a metal ring from the burnt paper - and I have no idea how he did it.

On the second occasion he stuffed an empty tin with cotton waste, closed it and asked me to place my hand upon the lid and to speak out what my wish was.

I did, thinking out aloud what I needed. Taking my hand away he then opened the lid to now reveal it full of a black powder and absolutely no trace of the cotton. Having taken a smidgen of the powder out, he re closed the tin and tapped it twice, opening it to now revel the cotton back and the powder gone!

The readings themselves have been amazingly accurate, indicating the present and the future to come. Depended on the latter, the practitioner offers various ways of enhancing ones future or protecting against it, not that much different to how a someone with a similar practice would do so in SL.

All in all, I have to put this down in the list of things I dont know how they happen!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm still around....

Its been a while since I've posted, been enough reason for this, so caught up in getting through 2011 that there has just not been the space to sit a reflect on something to type.

As I come to the end of another year I have to confess that this is easily one of the most outstanding one's I've had. Now, I need to make it clear that it has not been an easy one, instead, truth be told, its been one of the hardest one's to deal with, but amazingly I have never been happier.

First off, if anyone is reading this, early in the year I made the decision to quit my job because work suddenly began to feel like work, which was kind of messy because I like my fun. So I quit, just walked away with no idea of where I was going next. This act was shortly followed by the news that I had a new responsibility to take care of which resulted in me having to delay my retirement plans by 20yrs.

In between act one and two, an angel appeared and made me an offer I could not refuse, resulting in me deciding to take off on my own and set up shop. Which I did, and while things have not been easy at all and look like they are only going to get harder in 2012, I have been having fun again.

So all in all, its been a great year and I hope its been just as good for you too!

In closing, a few of the latest pics

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bang Bang and life goes on

Sometime last night members of the Police force at one of the barracks on the eastern side of the capital stepped out on to the streets to roam the neighborhood  firing in the air.

This the latest in a string of protests about pay and the rising COL that Burkina has seen in the last few months.

The police "mutiny" then spread to the barracks of the Republican Security Company who are billeted right in the middle of the city, just two blocks from where I am accustomed to work from and 5 blocks from where we live.

Its a surreal situation with an area of one block around cordoned off to vehicular traffic, those businesses in the vicinity shuttered and closed as periodically the sound of gun fire can be heard from within.Beyond that point though, life goes on - businesses opened, trucks unloading and loading goods. goods being moved from point to point.... and yet, not 500m away from all the hustle and bustle guns are going off.

We live in strange times

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Travail's of living and working in Africa

In addition to the hardship factor - lack of amenities, poor infrastructure etc. there is also the possibility of 'situations' developing either as a result of a crack down on protests or in fighting amongst the powers that be,

During the course of the last three weeks, students marched the streets in protest of a killing two months ago, burning tires, throwing stones. This resulted in ALL schools being shut down for a three week period.

Last night disgruntle elements of the army took the streets firing into the air in a protest of their own. 5 colleagues had been sentenced to 18 months in jail for assaulting a civilian, a judgement apparently  they disagreed with.

From what I hear the shooting started around 11pm going on till the early hours of the morning. In the process shops looted, goods stolen as these elements ran through the centre of the city.

Going to work this morning, things seemed normal on the periphery, but shops remained closed in and around the Grand Marche. The only other  indication really that things were not quite as they should be was the closure of Filling Stations.

As I stood there, a few meters away from ground zero the tension in the air spiked; people began running, throwing glances over their shoulders, car's screeched away, pandemonium as pavement hawkers threw their goods together - clothes, shoes, food - and joined the flow; tables disappearing  in a twinkle made me think that this was a well practised routine.

Torn between taking out my camera and recording the events around me and the potential risk of doing so against the prosaic act of leaving actually took me some time to decide... I chose the later, deciding to return to the relative safety of my accommodation.

I don't quite know why I did that...

The latest is that these guys are threatening to hit the streets again this afternoon

Friday, March 11, 2011

I quit...

Nov 2010

Over the last few months I've logged a few miles between here and Colombo, with a short trip across to Gay Paree

That trip was notable for nothing more than an opportunity to fly aboard an Airbus A380 and what an aircraft it is!!

Take off and landing barely noticeable on this 'Super Jumbo' so smooth is its flight. Seating 525 people in a typical 3 class configuration, to fly in one an experience indeed!

All that done, to the east and back, I am back in good O'le Ouaga, and pretty much happy to be so...

Mar 2011

Item #23 on my Bucket List was "to walk away from a job" something that I never really thought I would do, ever. Well, I did just that last week, and amazingly feel wonderfully liberated by the experience of having done so.

I love my job, its taken me to places I could never imagine, showing more of the world than I could ever hope for and all the time I've done it with a passion and a fire determined to do the best that I could. Ha, not for a moment did I imagine where life would take me when I sat for an interview with the State Plantations Corp so many years ago!

A job is worth doing only as long as its fun, I've always maintained that if you found something you loved to do, you would never have to work a day in your life, and to me, tea was just that. From the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, to China, Darjeeling, the Blue Mountains of the Nilgiri's, the gently undulating tea fields of Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, been there, seen it all.

So, making this decision was not an easy one, but there is always a time and a place for everything, and this was my time to move on, it felt right, it feels exactly right, so much so that I've taken to asking myself if I should be worried that I am not worried.

I've quit my job, walked away from it because corporate policies and people's agenda's were getting in the way of me having fun, doing something I loved doing. I upped and said now enough, deciding that for once, I would dictate the terms.

The first question of course is what I quit this for - the short answer is "nothing". I now have a little less than 45 days to figure this all out.

I'm free-falling, having taken the plunge without a parachute I'm enjoying this exhilarating feeling I have... and in spite of it all, I know that just before I hit the ground, there's gonna be a gust which will send me soaring up up and away, off on another adventure.

                                          Salif Keita concert - 5 March 2011 In Ouagadougou

Handicrafts at a Trade Fair, Ouagadougou

High protein?

Regional traditional masks

Exquisite I thought

                                                                           High fashion

Monday, January 17, 2011


Four African kids, four lives.... wonder where they will be 2yrs from now....