Franz Kröger

Modern Technology and Modern Ideas in Bulsa

After my last visits in 1994 and 1997 I observed many changes when I revisited Wiaga in 2001.

Many a visitor who has just escaped the hectic noise and stress of European townlife yearns for the idyllic image of African life: a peaceful silence without the noise of motorized vehicles, shepherds tending their cattle and playing sweet music on their flutes, the inhabitants of a compound gath-ering on the pielim telling old stories and singing songs in the moonlit night.

In the Bulsa area the scenery as described above is disappearing slowly. Progress, wealth and modernization - a great relief for many hard workers and suffering people - can be seen everywhere. The numbers of houses built in cement-block along the streets leading to the market-centre of a town have increased immensely. Many traditional compounds have got new wells - cemented inside and outside so that no dirty water from the farms can mix with the drinking-water. Many times I listened to the lessons which voluntary night-school teachers gave to the illiterate adults of my residential compound Anyenangdu Yeri. When I was lying under my mosquito-net trying to find sleep I still heard the rhythmic group-reading: ba- b - be -bi- b - bo - bu.

Travelling to Kadema, Sandema and Fumbisi, everywhere I could see wooden poles and electric wires lining the roads and waiting to be connected with electric power.

The bicycle, a luxury article of the wealthy classes some decade ago, has become a general means of traffic, while cars and motorbikes are now the status symbols of wealthy groups. In Sandema I observed busy building activities, roads are being repaired, new pipes for water were laid (see photo p. 22) and people are sitting in clean bars with electric fans drinking their ice-cold Coke or beer.

We must give our full consent to these innovations that help lighten the burdens of daily life, that create new jobs and keep more young people in their northern home-country Buluk. It cannot be denied however, that the new wealth may be accompanied by dangers and temptations. Rev. James Agalic, the new DCE of the Bu(i)lsa District, has hinted already at the dangers of alcoholism (p. 9), a consequence of having more cash money and of selling akpeteshi at extremely low prices.

The second danger may consist in adopting a materialistic and egocentric way of life together with the pleasant advantages of modern capitalism. It will be a hard task for teachers and other educators to revive the old values of the traditional Bulsa society sharing part of one's gains with other family members, to convey the islamic idea of giving part of one's wealth as alms to the poor and orphans or the Christian ideal of general brotherhood and charity.