Wednesday, 14 March 2012

International Women’s Day.

Le 8 mars… there was an ever increasing rumble of expectation and excitement as the day approached. After many discussions as to what the official material would look like, it suddenly burst onto the scene in vivid pink, yellow, green or blue, complete with flowery statements on the worth and role of women in ‘rebirth’ and ‘progression’. Then followed the flurry of activity as the tailors of N’Djamena rustled up an extraordinary variety of designs. And suddenly, it was upon us. In all its vibrancy and celebration, International Women’s Day had come to Chad and La Place de la Nation, the impressive centre of the city, was to be the location for a grand parade, of which the workers of Hopital de Guinebor II were to be a part.

While this photo (left) would win no prize for artistic skill, I enjoy it because it sums up for me the whole spirit of the day. First and foremost, some of the astonishing fashion statements that were being made; never before have I seen a lady wear, with such pride (or without come to think of it), a head scarf, plus a baseball cap, finished off with a pair of diamanté encrusted sunglasses! The tailors of N’Djamena did themselves proud; in the throng of thousands of women, I did not see 2 identical styles.

The second reason I like this photo is the women in the background. You can’t tell, but they are surrounding a car full of men and refusing to let them through. Amongst good nature cheers and only semi- serious arguments, the car was surrounded and held hostage for a good 10 minutes as it tried to cross the road packed with empowered women, ready to march.

These intrepid men were not the only minority that found themselves in the marching mass. For as we approached the dignitaries, flanked by brass bands, journalists and thousands of spectators, while being directed with curt whistles and the barked orders of 2 officials, whose aim was to install such fear in us that we would not dare to let the presence of long flappy skirts and flip flops inhibit our marching, I looked up and saw a cow too had joined the parade. Draped in the official material, of course!

The day was rounded up over a feast of fish, potatoes, dancing and singing. Amongst all the sights, sounds, activities and antics of the day, it was great to be a part of such a celebration as this with my future colleagues in Chad.

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