A few days ago I was reading a note posted by a friend, Maureen Agena, on her Facebook page, about what she called "the spirit of poverty”. This state of mind that is to keep the best of what you have for others, your visitors for example. As if oneself didn’t deserve the best that there is.
This is exactly what I thought while visiting some fish products landing sites in Senegal. Joal, Mbour, Hann... landing sites are still separated into two areas: 'Zone Africa' and 'Zone Europe'.
"The difference is striking", laughingly warned Karim who made us visit Joal landing site. "For Africa, you can dump the fish on the ground without problem", he said, always laughing. While for the Zone Europe, any fish that falls to the ground is immediately discarded. Also the terrace appears far cleaner, better maintained that in «Zone Africa»
The "Zone Africa" receives the fish intended to feed local or regional markets. While the fish landed in the "Zone Europe" is exclusively for export to Europe. Between the two zones, a wall. Nothing more. But this 20 cm thick wall separates two realities, two worlds, two types of consumers. On the one hand, the consumer who eats ‘to live another day’, I’m tempted to say, and on the other the consumer, health conscious and ready to pay the price for the quality.
Is the "Zone Africa" the image of Africa? A terrace almost entirely covered with mud, a crazy world with people coming from every direction, where it’s difficult to find your way.
Such disorder has no place in the "Zone Europe". First of all, access is strictly controlled, it’s not free entry for everyone. The terrace is cleaned regularly. Even better, this area is equipped with a laboratory. The fish landed is controlled then immediately loaded into refrigerated trucks for delivery to factories. Here it meets the “European standards”, in other words "the basic standards of quality and hygiene”. Yes, this fish there makes your mouth water. But alas! Once loaded in the truck, we won’t see its color again. Not on African soil, anyway.
‘Yet there is no European here to control’, I said, just amazed. If we are able to do this for others, why can’t we do it for ourselves?