Life Of An African Villager

I have just seen this documentary about a guy named Makala from Congo, who is selling charcoal. The most painful is that this life what the documentary portrayed is not an extreme or unique or rare one. It is the exact copy of an ordinary, daily life of masses across Africa and 3rd world regions. And yet, even this is the sad reality, many of privileged countries’ citizens from Europe or America etc are in their little ignorant bubbles. Some people from the developed parts of the world fail on every day bases to at least sympathize with these suffering masses and even more; constantly badmouthing them. I tell you what I hope from them: to stop or at least withhold negative criticism until they walked in their shoes and understood on their own skin how hopeless situations are these poor people in. This documentary can give the critics minimum the idea why to shut up, so please watch and share.

Especially if you are from a western and developed country, please do click on the video link above and watch at least the trailer of this truly heart-rending story. As I said I believe many people who will watch this will think that the main character is one of a few who are living like this. Or even if the viewers will be aware of the number of lives who share Makala’s daily struggles they won’t be really thinking of the realities surrounding this lifestyle.

I was watching the video and realized that way too many times even when I had money on me I was trying to cut prices of people like Makala. I feel bad about this and will definitely change my behavior for sure as I am someone who has the ability to buy directly from people like the “star” of the documentary. With it at least I can pay my respect towards their everyday struggles…

Before, somehow I never really thought about how different is the production of everyday items over here in West Africa. How different is a day of the locals where the majority of the population is making their livings from producing with their hands. Also the same people who make the items are the ones selling it too to keep the price competitive. The documentary clearly shows how though is this lifestyle.

What it doesn’t show is that meanwhile all this truly heart-breaking situation is happening with them highlighted in Makala’s story, the foreign companies with their mass productions capitalizing on the newest technologies, cut prices to extreme low. So in addition to all struggles of someone like Makala, these business giants are killing the opportunities of locals to find income sources. If they manage to stay in the business their tiny revenue is seriously endangered by these foreigners.

And above all this, let’s think about that they need to deal with people like me too, trying to negotiate the even lower prices. Watch Makala in this scene where he arrives to the market place after pushing his bike 50 km with giant bags of sellable product on it and find himself in a verbal fight with local women.

These individuals are going through so much actual physical labor to make their small 30-40,000 cfa (~$100?). Above all people even try to “steal” from that little or companies trying to put them out of business.

What kind of labor do you believe is $100 worth? Would you pay this amount for a new technology like a Fitbit watch which you will get bored after a few days? Or with a few more hundreds would you spend it on a wonderful 2 days weekend in a nice spa hotel? Would you give this fare per hour to a super fancy and popular hairdresser to style you? Or is this worth one hour of the best massage therapists time? But it doesn’t worth week of hard labor from someone like Makala. He cuts out and chops a tree by hand over 2 days. Then carefully arranges it and cover with foil then slowly let it burn. After cooling it he collects the products in sacks then carry to his house. After carefully stuffing his bicycle he pushed it over 3-4 days for 50 km on a dusty road. Sometimes even at nights among giant cars and tracks he continuous his way fighting with danger of being hit by them in the absolute darkness.

I go mad every time when someone through out food, or obsessed with pricy brands and paying extreme amounts for a haircut every month. Many people fancy new clothing every single week.. so that was mainly what I was reflecting on while watching the documentary and formed the realization that I am – and many others on this earth are – way too privileged.

I even was raised in kind of “poverty mindset” so learned the basics of financial instability very early in life. If you are from a family which is in trouble to provide the minimums (water, food, shelter, security, and maybe hygienics) you – as a child – probably won’t see your parents too much. Striving to create stabile environment for your kids and family when you are surrounded with uncertainty and financially challenging circumstances, it’s the real struggle requires you to work day and nights.

One thing I certainly learned from my time struggling for a year without money in west Africa, is that when your basic needs aren’t covered your personality is shaped. It unfortunately transformed for the worst. As I volunteered in countries with extreme poverty, I have some kind of limited understanding. To be honest the biggest surprise to me was always the fact that in reality these people can stay their kind and smiling selves no matter the struggle. Or at least the many I had the chance to interact with…

I had been without money for around a year and I was struggling to feed myself not long ago. To showcase the seriousness of my situation I would like to share a moment from that period. I was so desperately hungry and hopeless that I kind of had to ask a woman who sold basic street food to feed me for free. It was only around £0,10 cost but I never felt more vulnerable in my life… even since. And trust me I never want to feel that ever again! Sometimes to survive you have to give up some principles or privileged status of yours. It shakes you in your foundation like it done it with me too. Since then I have a better perspective when I need to form opinion about topics concerning poverty like our main issue now in Europe: immigration.

I was highly touched by the realization what this simple movie -describing everyday life and struggles of Makala- brought to me.

Some people wouldn’t had recognized the selfish and self centered person I became due to extreme uncertainty I was effected while that time of my life I was without income in a 3rd world country. My everyday thoughts were centered around finding food and the very basics to be covered. It was a strange situation. Although over time I adapted well and became more like the locals but still they thought I’m way too stressed compare to them. While it was actually my way more chilled version then who I am usually. 😅

Extreme poverty changes your priorities no matter how good person you are. For me this period of my life will always remind me to try not to judge people in need who are desperate to make their life turn for the better.

What are your thoughts about the documentary? What questions and realizations did you make while watching it? Please share with me in comments I am really looking forward to learn from all of you. 🙏🏼

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