10VI1999a note arrived in the company P.O. Box that a parcel has arrived for me at the general post office. so i take my bike to arrive at this massive property in the middle of the city, where too many people seem to be busy doing something and where there's a different building for every different service. i show my note to the chief of the parking and he ensures me that i must try the big building at my left. and because i have been here before, i know that i have to pass by the grand hall where you can buy stamps and at the other end post small letters and at my right i find -amidst thousands of postoffice boxes- a small counter, where two women are chattering and laughing at high volume. trying to slip into the african pace i wait with a face that i hope to be humble until i am fed up with that after some time and try all my theatre tricks to be present in an impressive way, but their complete indifference only increases. moving on between the vast grey walls of mailboxes i discover another window, a hole in the wall with a great room behind it...a dozen of people behind brown tarnished desks are piling envelopes at an incredible lifeless pace. so there i am, leaning on an ugly dark wooden counter with my elbows, looking at my private silver screen, amazed by the surrealism of this scene, that must have been designed by kafka himself one day. i am roughly woken up from the silent slow-motion dream by a fat lady who looks up and jokes in moorÈ about the whiteman. while the other employees are sniggering at me, she walks up to me to have a quick look at the crinkled note i'm holding. she looks at me with a scornful smile and tells me that i'm wrong here. she then goes on to explain where i should go in such deformed french that it's impossible to make her believe that i understand what she's telling me. so she repeats it in a way that should give me the feeling that my terrible french is worse than hers. anyway, i leave after having thanked her three times with a failed smile. having picked up the words `general building' and `left', i turn left in front of a big building to discover a yellow sign with the words `colis postaux'. my pulse rate is raised to the square and i start moving into the direction of the distant arrow. having passed by a volleyballcourt [seek the 5 logical connections between volleyballcourt and general post office?!] i arrive at a tumbledown building in front of which a handful of army officials in uniform are sitting in the shade of an old tree. one of them reacts to my high-spirited `bon jour' with some sort of snarling equivalent and points to the door when i want to show him my treasured voucher. inside i find another two indifferent functionaries lying behind a muddled desk in uncomfortable chairs. my greetings are answered with unexpected liveliness and they seem to find me amusing. finally people that are interested in the piece of handwritten paper. he reads the name of the foundation out loud `TELEVIEDEO' and makes a funny face, `is that you?'. while he puts three red-ink stamps on the ticket i try to teach him the pronunciation of my real name. then he gets up to show me where i need to go now. the customs. another counter. `yes, you turn right following the road from which you came, and then you take the driveway over there...yes, the one where the gate has fallen off...and afterwards you come back here'. after having thanked him a lot i follow his directions to arrive at a backdoor where a driver is unloading all sorts of mail. he tells me that i should make a little turn of maybe 100 meters to the left to arrive at the desired window. so i walk on, enter a room with 10 EMS box offices of which 9 are closed. the one in the far off corner is luckily opened, but when i show my stamped voucher a lady tells me that the guy who sent me here must be `stupid or something' because it's surely not here that i should be. out again. back to the man with the three stamps. halfway there, a kind young man who was standing behind me at one of the counters, walks up to me and he asks me in beautiful french with a parisian accent if i will allow him to show me the customs office. i accept his offer gratefully and he shows me a little building next to the back door where the man is still unloading his truck. inside there's armed gendarmes behind a counter. again i hand over the somewhat crumbled piece of paper and this man also reads the companyname out loud and starts laughing. i don't mention the proper pronunciation this time. the soldier puts my voucher together with the one of my companion on an empty desk behind him and sits back, until another soldier enters and starts muddling with a weighty keyring to open up the top drawer. when he finds the right key, another stamp is being put on the little form and he returns it after having signed it. on our way to the man with the three stamps, the burkinabe excuses his people for the impossible `counter-economy'. i tell him how much i enjoy it, being a novice in this area. the redstampman sends us on to a counter at the back of the ramshackle building and there i see parcels for the first time, lots of parcels, an incredible chaotic pile, as if a plane has dropped it right through the roof, only seconds ago. there is a lady with an impressive register that i have to sign after having paid a dollar for some unclear services and a little man who is digging up parcels from the packagestack. when he finds the 9 kilo piece from holland i am sent back to the stampdesk where the amused officials are already waiting with the heavy box when i have made the tour around the building. the one that is practising his dutch now, gives me a bread knife to open the box that has obviously already been checked for at least one time. i cut the robes. the functionary assures me with a big smile that i am in serious trouble if there's any arms inside. great is my joy and their surprise when i find 21 splendid books inside. in dutch and english. the man in uniform asks me why anyone would send 20 pounds of books [of all things] across the earth to burkina faso [of all places]. i explain him that there's not one reasonable bookshop in the country and that i happen to have the greatest dad that this era knows. he tells me that it's a pity that there's no french literature, because i should have given them one for a present. i smile. on top is a beautiful 19th century edition of shakespeare's works. i carefully wrap it all up again. au revoir. flying home, to read romeo and juliet...
------------------------------------ again i wonder if it's wise to search words to write about the unspeakable. and although the answer is clear, i will again obey the madness: blueblack night, torn apart by continuous lightning, dust everywhere for moments, circling, trying to hold on, to find a place to lie down...eyes sanded 'til tears. growing dictatorthunder. trembling. again the people running to hide and me running outside to drown. for the rain starts falling, knocking down the flying desert. powder earth is immediately transformed into a muddy river. and the force of the bulletdrops is enormous. trembling. arms up in the air. seconds pass, tons of water, completely soaked. i seem to be dancing a rolling hallelujah. rain is audibly hitting my bald head. the guard looks from his hiding place with a look as if i completely lost my mind. but these are the only apologetics that reach my heart...it is all true: GOD is surely there and he isn't silent. i am freezing for a moment, trembling, grasping for breath. and this is only the prelude to the grand day, the ouverture of the masterpiece in which the infinitesmall being will one day meet the everloving MAKER of all...face to face. i am dripping...i leave my muddy shoes at the door...GOD is speaking!
17VI1999 a night of merry meetings. victorien and adama have come over for dinner. we're outside with a chinese petrollamp, while the storm is somewhere near and the current is anticipating by randomly turning off and on. beautiful dialogue between darkness and light. their faces emerge from the watery shades of the mangotrees to allow -for a second- the sharp contrast between the shining black of their skin and the mat black of the background. it's a little game that the wind is playing with the shivering oilflame. and they talk in their deep language, trying to remember proverbs and stories that we should know. now and then a roaring laughter announces that one of them knows another one and then they discuss with a rapid tongue about the translation into french. some of the results follow, again transformed into another language:
a stranger has big eyes, but does not see
he who cannot speak is never right
the old hound might not be fast enough to catch his prey, but he knows best of all the huntingtricks.
`true' story one day a man was invited by his in-laws. when he arrived, they had prepared a large calebas bowl of delicious roasted grasshoppers. but when he was offered to eat, he refused because he did not want to make a greedy impression. afterwards, when they had eaten, the family went off to the fields to reap the rice and the man stayed behind. when he was sure that there was nobody left to watch him, he sat down next to the calebas and wanted to start eating, so he took the lid and because he did not know where to put it, he placed it on his head and ate every grasshopper in the bowl. afterwards he also left for the fields. and when he arrived he reaped at high pace to catch up on his backlog. but he did not notice that the light lid was still on his head. and while his in-laws where looking at him in a strange way, he worked harder and later on even harder, until the moment that he discovered the lid. he was then so ashamed that the family had found out about his greediness that he fled. nobody in the village has seen the man again since that day.