lundi 11 août 2008

Second Hand T-Shirts

One of the perks about living in the third world is the t-shirts. All those clothes out there that are donated to charity by countless self-less Americans end-up in open markets across the world. Burkina Faso is no exception. The market in Tougouri is no exception. I see Africans wearing the most random and ironic t-shirts. Just today, somebody put an "I'm Big on Little Rock" t-shirt in my box. Some self-sacrificing Arkansan decided to share the joy of Little Rock with Africa and now the t-shirt is mine! Some things I see are just sort of . . . incongruous. For example, I saw a huge grown man . . . you know, the type that would be cast in movies as the semi-neanderthal who stomps about grunting. A really big guy. And he was wearing a t-shirt that said "Princess" in pink sparkles. Seriously. In Tougouri we have something called APE which is the Burkina equivalent of the PTA. It's made up of rich parents in the village just like in America and the president (an important man in the village) often sports a shirt that says "It's gettin Hot in huuuur! So take off all your clothes!" Soooo professional.

When men wear ridiculous shirts its funny but when it's little girls in wildly inappropriate garb it becomes kind of tragic. For example . . . we PCV's really try to get involved in International Women's Day (March 8th) because the women of this country are at best second class citizens. I had a friend who was playing soccer with a bunch of neighborhood girls when she noticed one of her team mates (a 12 year old girl) was sporting a t-shirt that read, in puff paint, "A suck, a buck." I'm sure some sorority girl donated her shirt to a "good cause." Gee whiz. Another time i was proctoring a test in my 7th grade class when I noticed one little girl wearing a shirt that said "I killed a 6 pack just to watch it die" I don't even know how I would go about explaining that. Ridiculous.

The weirdest thing about all this is that they don't even care what their t-shirt says. I love explaining to Burkinabe what their t-shirts say but they never really care. In America we are always conscious of what our t-shirts say: what will people think if I wear this "Phish" t-shirt?? Will they think i'm a jobless druggie?? What if I bump into a really big Phish fan? Will they think I'm a complete phony if I don't know all the words to Reba?? Maybe that's just me. But these Burkinabe honestly dont care if they are a man wearing a shirt that says "I have the p@#$y so I make the rules."

So if you have a particularly offensive shirt you might as well donate it to Africa because they don't know what it says nor are they effected one way or another by the t-shirts meaning. So keep on keepin on America! Donate those t-shirts!

5 commentaires:

Molly a dit…

I really want to see some of these t-shirts on these people. I think that rules, except the tragic ones. The princess shirt is my favorite- I wonder why he picked a pink shirt anyway? Most of all, I'm really glad that Africa is big on Little Rock; I am, too.

Meaghan a dit…

Funny that you saw someone with an "I'm big on LR" shirt. When I was in Namibia I had a learner in one of my classes who came to school with a shirt that said "CAC Mustangs" and Little Rock, Arkansas on the back. I had to do a double take just to make sure that I read it right. Small world!

Sue a dit…

I really want a do-gooder Burkinabe to donate a "I'm big on Tougouri" t-shirt. One that I can buy in the Sewanee market.
But really, I'm insulted by that man wearing the Little Rock shirt. Is he really big on LR? Does he support the downtown renovations? Or LR's small businesses? Empty words.

ArgentiCane a dit…

Becca, you're doin' it, yo. I'm glad that you were given an opportunity to maybe separate the process of integrating into and then changing from within your place. It's uber cool and an uber exhilerating feeling. BTW, I might just make and then send t-shirts and you tell me if they show up. The first one will be "mon cherie fait le hanky panky" and the other one will be maybe a nice Hedges-ish "Dildo Daggins rocks my world."

Jessica a dit…

This is SO funny!! Ryan's parents went to Honduras for a mission trip and mailed him a picture of his dad and this little kid wearing a shirt that says "Professional Killer" on it... apparently Latin Americans are not particular about donated t-shirts either.