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Adventures in Arboriculture

At the Alkalo's House

GAMBIA | Friday, 20 June 2008 | Views [960]

Fishing on the Halahin at Kartong

Fishing on the Halahin at Kartong

After our return from the river trip at MakaSutu, we heard the news that the head of the Juwara Family in Kartong had died. There are seven main families in Kartong and the Juwara are one of them. He would be buried the following day, which is when we intended to have our meeting with the Alkalo and the forest committee. Most of the 3000 inhabitants of Kartong would be at the funeral and so the meeting was postponed until the following day (monday).

We decided to have a rest day as Matt's leg had become inflamed from a bite, exacerbated by the heat and no doubt also by the huge amount of walking (for one reason or another always in the midday sun) we had been doing.

Monday came and we attended the meeting. We had written a Memorandum of Understanding, which basically is a document that states we wish to work together. We were seated, and waited for a couple of latecomers before a prayer and introductions. The document was then translated into Woolof for the Alkalo who listened intently before discussion followed.

It is very difficult to judge the 'mood' of a speaker at any given time, was he annoyed? joyous? about to storm off?. I had been to a meeting here before about a year ago, and was glad of that, because that time it was chaos, people looking like they were about to come to blows and shouting and wildly gesticulating, and then laughter and pats on the back. I was able to prime Chris and Matt, don't worry, be patient. 

The forest committee had some concerns and we had great difficulty explaining the concept of 'risk assessment', and although there was no onus on the villagers here, it was in the MOU, and (quite rightly) they wanted clarification.

When all present had had a say the MOU was signed and the Alkalo brought out the cola nuts for everyone to share. They were exceedingly bitter and made the gums numb. Chris pointed out that this is because they are moderately narcotic. We looked over some of the existing forest plans and then posed for photos to commemorate the occasion.  

There was another prayer before we left to view Matt's new home, of which he had a choice of two. After short deliberations he chose the one that came with a cleaner and cook, a wise man indeed.

I'm writing this now from back at home, and soon Matt should have his own page up and running 'inshallah'. In the meantime, I may try to upload some snippets of Film Footage from the trip over the next month.



Tags: community forest, international tree foundation, trees


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