National Geographic : 1966 Aug
leaves, bits of bark. Not far away, younger women pat peanut flour into skinny dough nuts and deep-fry them on the spot. Across the way squat vendors hawking the prosaic necessities of village life in Upper Vol ta-flints for starting fires, bows and quivers of iron-tipped arrows, tiny bottles fashioned of gazelle skin with the hair left on. Leather workers create neat amulets stuffed with pas sages from the Koran for Ouaga's Moslems. Shoemakers shape practical, long-wearing sandals from old automobile tires. From the rich sights and smells of food I drifted often toward the market's "house wares" department, with its piles of garishly enameled pots and commodes. Made in Ni geria, they bore a few words in addition to flowers and animals in raw primary colors. It became a game, as I peered over the shoulders of shoppers, to see if I could spot a new inscription. FEAR OF JAIL IS THE BEGIN NING OF WISDOM, a commode announced to me one day. Dinner plates proclaimed MONEY COME MONEY GO, or the other side of that universal coin: WOMAN COME WOMAN GO. Stewpots offered philosophy-WHO KNOWS TOMORROW? I suppose, amid all the banalities, I hoped to find a match for the first of these inscrip tions I encountered. I saw it only once, beside a wizened, ugly woman in the market at Fort Lamy. Lettered on an enormous pot, it an nounced confidently, MY HUSBAND LOVES ME. Joy and laughter pervade African markets; a constant bubbling of banter and jokes ac companies the serious business of buying and selling. But I could never suppress a feeling Beehive huts of Mossi tribesmen pock lush, path-laced stands of grain sorghum. In each walled compound one house near the entrance belongs to the husband, the others to his several wives. Only during summer rains does such ver dant growth reward Upper Volta's poor red soil and primitive farming techniques.