ESL Eco Blog

The « case à palabres » (arguing house)


Take a good look at the photo of this typical « case à palabres » of Mali ; the ceiling is low. The people who discuss under this roof cannot stand up suddenly when impelled by fit of rage! It is therefore necessary to contain one’s réactions, think carefully before getting carried away…at the risk of banging one’s head.

We too would have needed a « case à palabres » during the past few weeks during which we have been looking for our container. A cargo which the most pessimistic thought lost and the most optimistic thought to have arrived safe and sound without any fuss. A low ceiling would have perhaps moderated our reactions which went from a «damnit anyway! » to real anger.

Clément has remained suspended to his e-mail inbox and his cold sweats were not only due to the remains of a tropical illness contracted in Panama…

But now, it’s done. There’s no more need to stand up to express our discontent, we can remain seated and see where it’s going. As Harandé Touré, the director of the school to which our dispatch is destined, so well put it in a recent e-mail to Clément :

Dearest Clément,

I wish to present my apologies for these numerous mails that I have sent these past two days which have sometimes contained undiplomatic comments. I have been disgusted by the comments of the Panalpina agents in Bamako. According to the information I have, the container should be leaving tomorrow for Timbuktu.


Here we go…we’re the home stretch. Will we keep the « case à palabres » ready, just incase… ?


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