The old man and the colonial expert

When I was about 14, I witnessed something.

Father took us in his countryside Peugeot 404. We used to go to farm over the weekend. That day, we made a stop at a farmers forum conducted by a government agent.

He was speaking in French and a guy was translating into ewe. He was a kind of local figure because of his command of French language.

He could speak ewe but if he would do, he would lose his high social status reserved to the ‘educated’ ones.

His main role was to advice farmers to grow cash crops like cotton and sell fertilizers and insecticides to the farmers.

During the forum, a farmer asked a question about maize and beans. From there, hell had fallen on the government agent.

He tried to answer in French but quickly ran out of words, then he started to mix French and ewe. Everyone was confused. Finally he switched to ewe, and everyone started laughing.

The guy was supposed to be agriculture expert, but when it comes to how to grow and care about the people food crops, anything he was saying made no sense to the audience.

In the end, he stopped the embarrassment asking an elder in the audience to help.

The old man, poised, calmly made a careful and meticulous presentation about the crops history and growing conditions.

I was wowed. From that moment, I always carry that feeling that my fellows speaking in colonial languages are not good as the locals.

Later in life, I understood why the African elite does not want the end of African colonisation.

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