Vanda Kujbus

Friday, March 24, 2017

Donkerbos - Interview under the tree

Written by Vanda

It has been a long day and we are pretty tired after the water delivery and community meeting. However, this is our last day, so we have to keep going! We inteded to interview both men and women but as women were busy with getting their payments, we mostly found men with some free time to spare for us.

Interviewing people is not that easy even if you speak the same language and you know very well your research topic. Now, since none of these are available for me at the moment, I’m a bit stressed. You would think that sunshine and warmth makes up for everything, but I’m still sweating, sand went into every possible hole where it could find its way through, I’m itching everywhere from mosquito bites. All in all perfect mood and environment for some interviews!

As I still don’t have any clue about my topic, I have to play safe. I include more variables. We evaluate with Sigi the past few days, and realize, that the problem is not the lack of options (of course they are more limited than in a big city), but the lack of motivation to engage in those options. We keep hearing that it’s only the elderly, who are willing to put an effort and get some income, and the youth is lazy, but why is it like that? We are young too and yet, want to, or at least try to be more independent and stand on our own feet. Why don’t these people want the same thing, making their lives better?

So we decide to pick our interview subjects purposely, from 3 generations. However, we still need to play safe, I’m still studying agriculture and not psychology nor anthropology, so we also include a few extra questions regarding gardening issues, harvesting practices and some-must-to-have-family-related-questions.

It’s funny that we were expecting some unpronouncable tribal names, but it turns out that in the end they are also Josephs, Marthas, Marias etc...

We grab Oba and start interviewing people.


Interview with Jon

Mid aged guy (38) with an extensive family (4 adults and 6 kids). We picked him as he was one of the strongest opposing any changes. In his sunglasses he looks cool but I can’t see his eyes. We ask him what is he doing when he starts complaining that there’s almost nothing to do, he is just sitting around and resting all the time. The only thing he gets a fair income from, is producing beads. Which he has not done recently as he had other things to do. Oh really? - I ask. I think I heard that you had nothing to do. I continue questioning him, what are you busy with then? Building fences for commercial farmers from another tribe, he replies. But it’s not good, they don’t pay him properly and treat him bad - he continues. So he perfers not to work for them and says nobody wants to either. I see. And how much have you finished? You haven’t?... Interesting... However, I think he figured out where does this whole conversation want to end up, so he goes into defensive mode and can’t get any useful information out of him anymore.


Interview with Willy

Mid aged guy (41) with a smaller family (5 kids and his wife). He was chosen because he was standing on active side and complaining about the other people’s lazyness. His income also comes mainly from the beads where he also tries to sell his own jewellery designs. He also doesn’t want to work on commercial farms, so he hunts and gathers instead and in his free time he takes shifts in taking care of the goats and his home garden. Interesting. 2 men, same age, one of them is very productive while the other sits around. However, they still live at the same place, probably under similar roofs.


Interview with Christoffer

Young boy (22) with his parents. With his smartphone popping out of his pocket, sun shining on his glasses and rolex looking watch he reminds me of a badass rapper, so it will be interesting to hear his story. He even speaks English, so Oba can take a break after working very hard for 2 x 15-20 minutes. He indeed sounds like a mini business man, mainly working on fencing off commercial farms and trading beans and other goodies as a nice addition. Hmm.. maybe they are not doomed after all? Combined with his look, and entrepreneurial attempts we expect him to want to live in a big city, but he rather would live in the untouched nature and take videos from it. We don’t know how much this has to do with him seeing our camera, nevertheless we find him a bit controversial. Maybe it’s just me having hard times imagining Snoop Dogg in the bushes... But as all the youth, he also seems to lose interest so we set him free with a take away that at least he tries.


Interview with Katrina

The same old lady, who let us see her home. She is older than time itself yet sits so straight that any youngster could be jealous and melts my heart with her kind smile. She gives a very extended list of her daily activities, demonstrating with gestures how she does things, and I don’t have a single clue on what those could be, as Oba gives us only a short summary. Maybe it’s the long community meeting heated up by emotions, maybe he got bored of asking the same questions all over again, maybe he got hungry, maybe they dislike each other, God knows, but we get a compact version of who is Katrina and what is she doing. We still get the point, there would be some things to do, but as we see people starting to move about and be noisy, we have to stop the interview.

Belinda brings home a bunch of people, and of course there is always a space for another person on the back of the car. and we watch them slightly fading away in the dustcloud made by the car.

People going home after the meeting

I had some hopes that we can see the coffee tree harvest, however, Oba gives us a slight hint that he has no intentions on walking the same road again, unless Belinda drives us, which, to be honest I can completely understand, I already got exhausted by thinking about it, now imagine someone who haven’t eaten since God knows when. I’m afraid we have to call it a day. I might need to figure out a plan B instead of the coffee tree, since I did'nt get a chance to taste the coffee made out of it, and since the optimal harvesting period happens during my last few days of stay, I might won't be able to gather sufficient data on it. 

It's also time for us to go home, digest everything we have heard and seen, then come up with a final plan.