Thursday, November 27, 2008

Okba weaving a basket

On my last month in Gabon, the farmers I worked with gave me farewell gifts. Most were special things they owned like a mou-mou (traditional gown), a horned-bill skull, and even an elephant's tooth. Even though I had told them I wanted nothing but memories, they insisted that I take something tangible from Africa. Paul Okba, a farmer who drank malamba (palm wine) for breakfast, had started working on a basket about 6 months before I left. He was a farmer that worked hard when it was necessary but usually never listened to my advise. For example, on a site visit, we had found a perfect "walking distance" location to build a fish pond with a perfect source of water, a natural spring. I told him not to denude the vegetation around the spring to keep it from drying up. Of course, on my next visit, the spring was barely trickling. It had been stripped of vegetation because he wanted to build the fish pond on the spring source. Anyway, he was still a nice guy. He did finish the basket, however, a week before my departure. This painting is of Okba completing the base of my basket, gouache on watercolor paper, 8"x12".

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