Start Using Your Head

Posted on Posted in culture, Travel, update

Today was market day, so everyone was out in full force.  The merchants and craftsmen carried their finished products along the long roads.  A carpenter walked along with the carefully balanced wooden framework for the couch on his head.

African heads, protected by a twist of cloth, are used to carry almost anything you can imagine.  They balance the large plastic water cans to and from home, children are often the ones sent running down to the well, to slowly and carefully picking their way home along the roadside, yellow jerry cans balanced high.  For everyone else, the black plastic bag full of the days shopping, countless bundles of firewood, long long lengths of lumber and bamboo, an unopened umbrella ready for the rain, ruddy woven baskets, trays of tiny fish, each sway perfectly balanced, atop men and women as they walk the red dust. The most unusual and incredible things can be carried on top of your head!

I have seen briefcases, suitcases and backpacks all balanced on top rather than on someones back. In town, budding entrepreneurs place the metal pails full of coke and orange fanta bottles on his head, rubbing the outside of the bottles with a bit of stone or metal to rhythmically advertise his wares.

Although not quite the same as an ice-cream truck, it is as musical.

The number of objects that can be carried on your head is exponentially higher in Africa than home.  In fact, after a lifetime, I can’t think of anything that we carry on our heads in Canada. Earmuffs and toques don’t really count as they are not something I carry. I wear them.

Other than that, I think that leaves only headphones – the old-school kind,  not the prevalent ipod buds – that we might carry on our head. But, even here I hesitate. I think we would say we wear headphones rather than carry them, don’t you think?

Have you ever carried anything on your head?

Mark Crocker

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