The Gens of Founzan

Yaku, Salimata, and Loucemane


Yaku and his wife Salimata are two of my closest friends in village.  They run a bike shop/boutique  around 50m from my house and I spend a lot of time sitting with them as Yaku works, brewing tea and telling him and Sali about America.  Sometimes I bring my laptop over and make them watch videos of me and my friends playing disc golf and I kind of think they don’t hate it.  Their son Loucemane is two years old and just got a brand new bike with training wheels for the new year.  He loves wheeling it around but if you put him up on it and push him he screams until you get him back on the ground and yourself far away.

Mooré Man
Ok I don’t know all the names of these people.  I see this guy every day though, he’s always sitting across the street from Yaku’s bike shop.  Mooré Man speaks only Mooré (biggest local language in country) to me which is actually how I came up with his nickname.  I think he’s under the impression that if he completely immerses me in Mooré during our interactions I’ll pick up on it faster, but our conversations really only ever consist of him saying something to me and me smiling and responding with « laafi » (Mooré for peace).

This Kid
Well this might get embarrassing with how many names I don’t know, but This Kid is definitely worth mentioning.  He doesn’t speak any French but often comes over to draw on my porch in chalk or play disc golf.  My favorite story about This Kid is that one time he and a bunch of his other little friends were over at around 20h playing disc golf in the dark and I notice that a couple discs are missing.  I get my flashlight  and start looking around on the ground and eventually look up at This Kid, holding the elastic of his pants out with one hand and dropping discs down into his pants with the other.  The look he gave me was as if I had walked in on him in the bathroom without knocking.  I got the discs back.

Tanti Ouattera

Tanti Ouattera was my first tanti in Founzan.  A tanti is a large, old, happy lady who feeds you fried goods.  This is at Tanti Ouattera’s booth at the marché where she sells benga/tomsoh (Mooré/Djoula) which is a fried crushed bean and water mix covered in salt and piment.  Her post on non-marché days is right across from Yaku’s bike shop so I buy from her a lot and she always gives gifts (nice lady).

Zuma and Guy

Guy and Zuma are two Ouagadougou U students hailing from Founzan.  They come back and visit during the breaks to play scrabble (in French, I got beat but managed to get « faim » on a triple word for like 39 points) and drink tea with me.  Both speak some English and help me a lot with my French and local languages.  They’re back at school now so I’ll miss ’em.  We do some non-alcohol related things together too but these pictures don’t really support that so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Tanti Buvette & co.
Tanti Buvette is the tanti who works at my favorite bar in town along with a small group of younger tantis-in-training.  They’re all pretty fun to hang out with, and they ordered me two cases of my favorite beer in country (q.v. beer review post) so I can’t complain.  Tanti Buvette’s favorite joke is to tell me that she’s going to cook up my dog and eat it, but that he’s too small right now.  Pretty funny stuff.  She (and everyone else that works there) also likes to ask about my wife back in the states.  I tell them every detail about her except for her nonexistence.

Tanti Koko
Third tanti of the post:  Tanti Koko and her son Abdoul.  I’m not sure what her real name is, my friend Leopold used to call her Tanti Koko when he was a kid so I just started calling her that too.  She calls me Tonton Koko.  Her son Abdoul calls me Toubabou.  Tanti Koko sells fried dough and gateaux near my house and I try to buy from her every day.  My favorite story about her son is that one time I was biking by and he was standing with his mom like this except completely naked.  I stopped and asked him why he wasn’t wearing any clothes but he just stared at me.  Tanti Koko translated to Djoula for me and asked him the same question.  Without taking his eyes off me he whispered into his mom’s ear and she laughed:  « he says he has no clothes ».  Guess he found some after that.

This guy is a member of possibly the worst group of kids in village:  my next door neighbors.  This is the troupe that popped my soccer ball, cracked my ultimate disc, lost my uno cards, and eat my lizards.  When they run out of things to kill, break, or lose, they get into fights, cry, and peep through my screen door looking for bananas, vache qui rit, sugar, tea, etc.  Ugh  I’m banning these dudes from my courtyard.  Souley’s cute face is a terrible representation for how these kids make me feel.

Complimentary Kid
Ok I purposefully put Complimentary Kid up after Souleymane.    For the first month at site I was convinced that all the kids in Founzan were terrible, but I eventually found out it was just Souley’s gang.  There are a lot of great kids in town who just want to come over to hang out, play disc golf, listen to music, and just generally be not terrible.  Complimentary Kid actually isn’t his real name by the way, the truth is I’ve only seen this guy like two times, but he was really good to have around and kept complimenting me (my clean courtyard, how nice I am, how great my dog is, etc) and is more a metaphor for how all kids don’t suck.  Here he is by a drawing of my guitar that he drew on my door.

The first time I met Mamadou I was waiting at the bus stop when he came by to check out the bracelet I was wearing.  He really liked it so I let him try it on and he immediately got up and started walking.  As he got farther and farther away, the guy next to me explained that he was crazy and wasn’t coming back, and the man who works at the bus station got on his moto to chase him down.  I got my bracelet back and the guy next to me was right:  Mamadou is crazy.  A week ago I went to the marché with my growler (empty 1.5L water bottle) to get some dolo.  Mamadou took me by the hand and said he would help.  He filled the bottle halfway up with water at a small rice stand (whose water source was questionable), gave me a high five, then walked away.  I wanted dolo, so I walked around the marché pouring water out in small portions onto the ground during the third month of the eight month dry season hoping no one would witness my wastefulness.  I was almost done pouring it out when I saw him again, and told him to just finish it for me.  He said ok, took the bottle, and filled it up to the brim at a nearby water pump.  Anyway, this story ends about 20 minutes later with a dololess Clay pouring out a bottle of water onto his papaya tree back home.  Mamadou is crazy though, and while his antics keep me entertained it’s probably best if I don’t hang out with him too much.


3 réflexions sur “The Gens of Founzan

  1. Wonderful stories Clay. What a variety of people you are meeting. Reminds me of the variety I met during my days in the US Army. We love hearing about your experiences. Keep them coming. Love, GPa Saacke

  2. Oh Clay. Thanks for sharing the stories and images of some of the amazing people you are in community with. On behalf of ALL of us tantis in the world – we’re happy – but calling us large and old is unacceptable. 🙂 I am quite appreciative of the tantis and the children in your neck of the woods. Even the little ones that break things…. and need I remind you of your lizard escapades in Kpalime? Watch out for the preying mantis too….

    Thank you thank you for a wonderful Friday PM read. I agree with Gpa Allig – keep it up.

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