Oral histories from the Sahel
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CTA. 1992. Oral histories from the Sahel . Spore 40. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45808
At the desert's edge - oral histories from the Sahel edited by Nigel Cross and Rhiannon Barker 248pp ISBN 1 870670 26 4 Pbk UKL12.95 Panos Publications Ltd 9 White Lion Street London N1 9PD, UK
When I was young, the rains were good and the vegetation was thick and green. We don't really understand what happened: suddenly the rain lost respect for the old cycle - it no longer lasted as long, and the hot and cold seasons have been disrupted. Today the environment is sick, the soils are poor and hard, and the trees are dead. I believe these changes can be attributed to the fact that we have lost respect for our customs. We have violated old prohibitions to allow room for modernization and in doing so we have disregarded God's laws.' So said Obo Kone from Mali before he died in 1991. He is one of the contributors to a remarkable collection of reminiscences in At the desert's edge. Oral history is both a methodology and an academic discipline. It has not yet been widely recognized or used in a development context. But as Robert Chambers has found elsewhere, rural people with an oral tradition have an astonishing capacity for mentally recording and remembering events that profoundly affect their daily lives. Their recall of abnormal weather patterns have been found not only to be totally accurate, but to give far greater detail than the official records. At the desert's edge is a unique collection of knowledge gathered from the older peoples of the Sahel, through their memories and recollections. They share their observations and knowledge about changing ecological conditions, conservation and agricultural practices, traditional medicines and social relationships. With the controversial Earth Summit having struggled to find common ground on how to address global environmental problems, this book could provide a timely object lesson on how the older generations knew how to live in harmony with their environment. At the desert's edge - oral histories from the Sahel edited by Nigel Cross and Rhiannon Barker 248pp ISBN 1 870670 26 4 Pbk UKL12.95 Panos Publications Ltd 9 White Lion Street London N1 9PD, UK