The village meeting I mentioned in my last entry was a quiet affair. Everyone who was able, from children to the old, gathered in the meeting house soon after sunrise. The floor is wooden, raised a little off the ground and the people sat cross-legged listening to Kattan as he ran through the tasks that needed to be undertaken in the next ‘moon’, as the Arrakeshi call a month.
I am struck by the way the people in this village work together as one. Everyone works at something, and the fruits of that labour are shared amongst each other. Though they have their Chief and Elders to oversee the work, there is no real social hierarchy when it comes to housing and food – the Elders work as hard as everyone else and expect no more than their fair share.
These people have no concept of money or possession. Everything belongs to the village as a whole and what the village doesn’t have, is bartered for in the next village. Only yesterday, a cartload of pots was taken away to exchange for woven material. The potter of this village is apparently renowned for the strength of his pots and the Second Tribe owns a small flock of goats, the wool from which is spun and woven into quite fine cloth. A worthy exchange.
After the meeting, I took a stroll around the village and came across some of the older children (boys and girls) practising with their slings. They were knocking pine cones from a tree stump with remarkable ease. The slings are made from string (itself made from the fibres of a jute-like plant that grows nearby) and a piece of leather which forms a pocket for a rock projectile. A loop at one end of the string fits over the wrist and a knot at the other sits in the palm, held by the thumb. The sling is then swung around the head and the knot loosed from the thumb at just the right moment.
One of the boys, Migok, allowed me to use his own sling to test my accuracy. There was great hilarity when the rock I let fly, rather than hitting a pine cone or even the stump, flew to thud against the wall of Kattan’s cottage, fifty feet behind me. Obviously I will need a lot more practice before I can join in hunting rabbits or birds, but at least I amused the children.