The day has not yet lifted. There is almost a chill in the air, a dog surprised by the commotion stretches and yawns. A hoarse roaster irritated to have been awakened from his sleep before his time. Some women and children gather at the center of the village. An old donkey is harnessed to a rickety cart where all the available containers are loaded.


No time to take the millet porridge in the morning, we must start as soon as possible. The road is long and it is better to travel as much as possible before the sun ignites the atmosphere. Then the procession moved on to the slow rhythm of the old donkey. Every morning, in this time of drought, it’s the same scenario; you have to walk long in the bush, on a small, almost invisible, path in the grass yellowed by the heat all the way to a pond, which is more like a swamp, in the middle of nowhere, deep in the heart of the bush.

When the sun finally rises, the group begins to cheer and a chant rises like to give courage. The near coolness of the morning is still an illusion and an unpleasant dust hazes the ground that sometimes makes breathing difficult and causes the younger children to cough. The silence of the dawn is torn apart by the first cries of the cuckoo that flies and the cooing of doves. One of the boys will try to chase one with his slingshot to return later at home and roast it.

On the trail, a small herd of emaciated zebu and a shepherd cross the group with the donkeys. We stopped a few moments, we exchange news, there are concerns about the health of each other, and each begin walking again slowly one after another not deviate from the narrow path of sand and laterite. Now the white sun of the Sahel is high in the sky, its heat begins to choke the atmosphere of his ardor. Nature sizzles like she was cooking, the tiny flies are beginning to swirl around women and children, creeping into the nostrils and eyes. The conversations are silent, walking is heavier and the donkeys walk even slower.

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Sweat runs down the fronts and the backs and with great relief that the small group finally arrives under the cover of the trees where the heat becomes less suffocating. Unloading all the cans and jars piled on the cart, with as much noise as possible in order to scare off the monkeys that came to drink. We take our time to ensure that no snake is not hiding in the shade on the small dirt track as we approach the swamp. First we get wet to cool off. The water is almost cold in comparison to the heat of the day. Finally, we line up like a string to get the containers to two women to be filled. This vital water that comes up to our calves will be filled into our containers. It is not transparent, far from it. It is even slightly brown in color even dark brown. It must be said that the small stream has stopped running for a long time, and besides, if the drought continues, we will have to walk further to find another water source when this one will dry up. So we will be satisfied with this water and the will drink before leaving. The donkey is too old to support the weight of the load, as each load on his head is more than he can bear. The smallest carries only old plastic bottles filled with the precious liquid. And women have heavy earthen jars containing nearly twenty-five liters of water. And we must start our return, without delay, to be back before the zenith of the sun, the real owner of this place, who submits the entire region to his violence.


We will need to come back tomorrow and the day after again. And so, throughout the dry season, until the sky finally gives its liquid manna and water wells near the village are filled again … Unless one day a borehole is drilled and that a pump is installed, there, right in the middle of the center of the village where the palaver tree is located. This is what women and children dream for, who are return silently on the small bush trail.



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