Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The social structure here has taken me quite a while to understand, but the more I learn, the more I like it. Every village has village meetings once every two months or more often if needed. Even a bigger town, like Bunda, is divided into village size blocks with a man in charge of each called the "belozi" who is a sort of judge or arbiter of property issues. A meeting will deal with things like thievery, especially cattle or livestock, and other problems. One of the villages near the new well had a guy who had been caught stealing two cattle. So they made him bring all his cattle to the meeting and allowed the man whose cattle had been stolen to pick out the two fattest cattle for replacement. They then voted that if that man stole any more cattle he would be beaten and driven from the village (sometimes they beat the thief to death). They also discuss those who have died and have a list of those who didn't attend the funeral or help out with food, and that person is fined $10 to $20 which is a lot of money for these folks. That's why when one of our workers has a neighbor who dies, they take a day off to attend or they will be talked about and fined. If things are stolen, the meeting has the power to search a suspect's home for the stolen items. If found they are returned, and the thief is punished right there. They very seldom involve the police because the police are corrupt and whoever has the most money gets the prize. It's a system that's been around a long time and works pretty well. From what I read on the internet it sure works better than the U.S. Congress, but that's just one opinion.