Discussions under the Mango Tree – Intro


Got my charger back so I can finally start writing again. It’s hard to express just how much that means to me. There’s been a week of no blogs, so I’ll do a little bit of a “here’s what you missed last time”.

BAM Christy and Nina go to a Safari Park

SMACk Benin celebrates 52 years of independence; Christy goes to hospital

WHAMMY Christy and his team hold séances for his project in the villages of Serirou and kemerida.

I’ll elaborate further on a later date.


For future Christy: The next couple of blogs with the name ‘Under the Mango Tree’ in them (a great little bar) aren’t going to have any reports of what I’ve been doing on a day-to-day basis – they’re mostly just dialogue that I’ve half remembered/ half constructed, so feel free to skip through them (though at this point in time I’m thinking that they’re the most interesting things so far).


Last night, day 42, Nina and I went for a drink with good ol’ Pierre and the ever-jolly Hospice, a civil engineer. I’d met them both in the various trips to Matteo’s house over the last few weeks, but this was the first time that we’d decided to meet up of our own accord and shoot the shizz – and I have to say, the evening gave birth fiercest conversations I’ve had here.

Pierre, at 22 and having graduated with a masters, was exactly the kind of person that I wanted to be. Upon going to university I lost all faith in my convictions and challenged every previously held ‘fact’. This is, I accept, part of the process. I found it difficult to fall behind any one line of argument with utter conviction without feeling naïve and foolish. Difficult to be the self assured debater that I considered myself in secondary school. Even now my opinion shifts and accommodates when I’m confronted with a compelling argument from a reasonably engaging source. Do I really think that? Is what I’ve read at all comprehensive? Etc. Pierre seemed to be further along the same journey – he’d accepted the worth of many classical counter arguments, but constructed his own well defended beliefs from their midst. I’ve reached the conclusion that no hardline opinion, rejecting every element of its counter, is sound or plausible. To fall firmly in one camp is dangerous. One has to engage, accept, appreciate, and work out which elements from which side seem the strongest.

During the evening there were two lines of discussion:

1)    The state of NGOs in Benin

2)    Gadaffi – monster or martyr?


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