Team:TU Darmstadt/PolicyandPractices/Techno-moralVignette



Techno-morale vignette

Amadou had another long day of field work when he was going home. He spent countless days on the field harvesting groundnuts. Harvesting is very exhausting since Amadou had only a bullock and an old blade harrow to dig for the nuts. His wife and children often had to help during harvest time by picking leftover pods manually. As he grew older his back hurt more and more, but he didn’t complain. Being a member of a Sufi brotherhood, he was convinced that hard physical work was the key for coming closer to Allah. He knew of farmers who used modern machines to harvest groundnuts more easily. Nevertheless it never would’ve crossed his mind to use modern machinery like tractors because his spiritual leader of the Sufi order, the marabout, disapproved it. His life has always been simple but fulfilled thanks to his faith and customs. Still, he couldn’t deny that the electricity brought some amenities into town. The local merchant bought a fridge and sold cooled drinks. Amadou’s children loved it and even his marabout allowed himself a cool drink from day to day. He also could power up his new mobile phone at home and didn’t have to pay for it at the shop. His mobile phone became very important for him because he didn’t have to walk half day to the next bank but could use mobile banking.

But things have changed in the last years. Groundnut farming has become less profitable due to droughts and falling prices. Of course Amadou knew that this had nothing to do with the new solar cells and the lighting the engineers and politicians had brought from the capital. But he still felt uncomfortable when he walked home from the field in almost broad daylight although it was long after sunset. It didn’t help that he had no understanding about the functioning of the solar cells. He was only told that it was a new kind of solar cell that was supposed to be much better than the old ones. But he hadn’t seen the old ones either, so how could he possibly know?

The electricity wasn’t the only new thing in the village. People from Dakar came and gave credits to women who lent money together in a group of five or six persons. Amadou’s wife, Amina, used the money to buy a small sewing machine and open a small tailor shop with two other women. At first he disagreed, because this meant she could work less on the field. But even Amadou had finally to admit that you couldn’t live from air and hard work alone, so he agreed. Indeed, Amina’s income helped to feed the family. They even could afford a small lamp for their own house and their smallest daughter loved to read a book the local school teacher gave to her. Amadou didn’t care about books neither could he read. His parents couldn’t read either nor did they think of it to be useful on the field. Still, he grew up to be a good man who dedicated his work on the field to god.

But the recent changes challenged his view of himself. Wasn’t he, the man, supposed to feed the family? He felt bad and ashamed in front of his friends. His marabout encouraged his concerns and told the village people that honest manual work on the groundnut fields was the best service of God. Everything that prohibited people from it – for example modern machines or women working as a tailor – was bad. Amadou was sure, that just new technology wouldn’t help, he’d only have to work harder. As soon as he would earn again enough from the harvest he would forbid Amina to work as a tailor. And then he would get rid of the useless electricity. And then everything would be just like in the old time.