275-3: White Paint, Black Hands

The scenario happened as follows : 

In an effort to support the rooftop gardens of Radio Kayira of Mali, Canadians and Malians are working together to create what will hopefully become a model of urban agriculture and food sovereignty in the city of Bamako. Gardening techniques are shared, questions are asked; a Kodak moment of international cooperation. But behind the cheery smiles and sweaty brows, a more disturbing negative is developing. A young African animator decides to wash his hands of white paint in the water reservoir used to water the garden. A cloud of horror hovers over the Canadians.  They stand bewildered as the African casually washes his hands and contaminates the water with hazardous toxins. 

The foreigners (i.e.: the Canadians) look in dismay, some try to explain the situation, some shake their heads in disbelief. Our eyes point fingers at the sheepish culprit, his hands still submerged in the valuable liquid gold. Some of us even have the nerve to say what most of us are thinking. 

“What kind of ignorant person washes their hands and in the process contaminates their own water with toxins?” 

I pondered on the question for a while, trying to come up with a logical answer to the scenario. Miseducation is probably a good reason. Habit could be another. But then another less obvious but more prevalent question pops into my head: 

“What kind of shameless fucker makes toxic paint and puts peoples’ lives at risk just to make a profit?” 

Suddenly, the fingers are no longer pointing at the African. Suddenly, I can relate to the brother trying to clean his hands of the toxic white paint.

(edited from a Journal entry written in August 2009)

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