Wednesday, 01 October 2008
The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)
By Barbara Kingsolver
I was reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and came to this part in the book. I had to read it aloud to The King as here we are so close to our election that has us as a nation pretty evenly divided. Yes. I know it is not reality for here, but it gave me a chuckle just the same.
It reads as follows:
Anatole has been explaining to me the native system of government. He says the business of throwing pebbles into bowls with the most pebbles winning an election - that was the Belgium's idea of fair play, but to people here it was peculiar. To the Congolese (including Anatole himself, he confessed) it seems odd that if one man get fifty votes and the other get forty-nine, the first one wins altogether and the second one plumb loses. That means almost half the people will be unhappy, and according to Anatole, in a village that's left halfway unhappy you haven't heard the end of it. There is sure to be trouble somewhere down the line.
The way it seems to work here is that you need one hundred percent. It takes a good while to get it there. They talk and make deals and argue until they are pretty much all in agreement on what ought to be done, and then Tata Ndu makes sure it happens that way. If he does a good job, one of his sons will be chief after he dies. If he does a bad job, the women will chase Tata Ndu out of town with big sticks and Kilanga will try out a new chief. So Tata Ndu is the voice of the people.