Daily Writing #8: Burundi, the banana beer, racing cyclists, and poverty

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  — Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader

Isn’t that true?

I agree 100%.

Last night I was randomly browsing youtube after my work and found a documentary about Burundi, an African nation that is one of the poorest in the world. The title of the documentary was ” World’s Most Dangerous Roads | Burundi – The Racing Cyclists | Free Documentary

The documentary was riveting to watch and provoked some questions in my mind.

Map showing location of Burundi in the world.
Credit: https://www.worldatlas.com/maps/burundi

The racing cyclists of Burundi

The poverty in Burundi is high and people are forced to do menial jobs to support their families. I don’t know the history of the country but in the video, it was said that it recovered from a civil war recently and had a monarchy previously.

One of the occupations that they showed was of producing banana beer. People towed packs of bananas from one town to another on their bicycles. The surprising fact is that some cyclists loaded around 200 Kg of bananas on their cycles and then run down the hill to another town. They go so fast that they are known as racing cyclists.

The cyclists go up to speeds of around 60-70 Km/h and they can’t apply brakes at that speed too because it poses the risk of tire burst. So these cyclists are at the mercy of God when towing their bananas. Some even face accidents while doing this job.

It made me think about what poverty can force us to do and we have no choice but to do it any cost.

The process of banana beer production

Now, the banana beer that they made has a compelling process too.

All the bananas are piled up in a pit underground and covered to the top. After some days the bananas are checked for ripeness. If they are sufficiently sweet then all the bananas are taken out and peeled.

All of these peeled bananas are now squashed together with bare hands by 2-3 people. They use their bare hands and a pile of hay for squashing the bananas to squeeze out the juice from them. After all the juice is squeezed out it is collected and stored. Then it is mixed with the yeast and left for being fermented for a few days.

The beer is ready after some days.

The point to note is that they don’t have any exquisite machinery for doing all this and all the process is manual right from transporting bananas to extracting the juice and til beer production.

They don’t earn much from that beer but I heard the owner say that he is proud of what he does as he doesn’t have to steal to earn his living. He works for himself and his family has enough. Obviously, he knows that he can’t be rich but he is satisfied.

Has Capitalism failed?

Seeing the state of poverty in the country really made me think of our economic systems.

Has capitalism failed? The answer seems tilted towards Yes because the wealth distribution in the world is not optimum. And it’s growing worse. Rich are getting richer and poor getting poorer.

Why the governments across the world do something about poverty?

Instead, they focus on division politics all over the world running from actual issues that are plaguing the world. All the political parties want to remain in power without helping the people who put them there in the first place. I would say democracy has also failed us at some level.

Politicians win an election and then all they think about is winning the next one and staying in power at any cost. They don’t care at all about attacking the issues that matter in the real world.

Capitalism also isn’t foolproof. It has no answer to wealth distribution. I recently saw a Twitter thread about how rich Jeff Bezos is in comparison to the world. You will be dumbfounded on knowing the answer. Here’s a link to that tweet. See for yourself.

Capitalism has benefitted the world but its not the right answer and has massive shortcomings.

Countries like Burundi where people don’t even have basic necessities are prime examples of this. Due to the deficiency of basic services people are forced to do dangerous jobs risking their lives every day.

I don’t know what the answer to this problem of wealth inequality is but this is a problem that is worth studying.

I write daily here on my blog. There is no limit to the word count. I am not focusing on any topic here. I want to build a daily writing habit. This is Day 8 of the Daily Writing Challenge in 2022.

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