Saturday, 24 November 2012

Farmers' Day

A couple of weeks ago it was National Farmers’ Day. Normally, this is a public holiday and is celebrated on the first Friday in December. Unfortunately, that is Election Day this year. Therefore it was moved to November, but was not given holiday status. Election Day is a holiday.

In this district, Farmers’ Day competition finals were being held in Sombo, about 24km up the road towards Wa. I was supposed to accompany the Assistant Director in the Director’s absence. However, on the said morning, all 3 of the office cars were “spoiled”. Undeterred, I chose to take Michael. The timing of all these events is a moveable feast so I welcomed the opportunity to have the freedom of my own transport.

The seating was laid out and the loudspeakers were belting out some popular music as I arrived. Some exhibitors were there proudly displaying their produce and craftwork. These were clearly the finalists. A long line of sparking new bicycles stretched out in front of them. These were the prizes for categories of farming including, “best pig” and “best shea butter”. The overall “Best Farmer of the Year” would receive a motorbike.

It was encouraging to see the arrival of two Senior High School buses with livestock tied to the roofs. Students were there representing their schools with prize goats and sheep. The craft teacher from one of our local JHSs, who is blind, was displaying his brightly woven beds and stools. Peter weaves these with students and has his own business too. By selling them he can buy more frames and the ropes with which to weave. Quite rightly, he won some recognition for his work at this ceremony.

After 2 hours the district Chiefs were still arriving and being escorted to their seats by a band of talented young musicians, mainly drummers. An hour later and prayers had been said and libation poured on the ground to honour ancestors. The ancestors of these farmers would be rightly proud. I am sure if the day had been a holiday, many more spectators would have been present to honour them and celebrate their achievements. As it was, there were a large number of children from the school beside the park, showing enthusiasm for the competitors.

Heat and hunger drove me to leave before the end, unfortunately, but it was good to see the livelihood of the vast majority of people in this part of the world being recognised and celebrated publicly.

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