I blogged the other day about goat herding on World Book Day. Seemed like a good opportunity to make a little trailer for THE GOGGLE-EYED GOATS.

Meanwhile, back in London, a goat party was taking place. Look out for Christine Baker, editorial director of Gallimard Jeunesse, better known as the woman who brought Harry Potter to France!

The Goggle-Eyed Goats have launched!

Goggle-Eyed Goats by Stephen Davies and Christopher CorrSome of the most popular posts on this blog are from my blog series The Making of The Goggle-Eyed Goats. So I am pleased to announce that THE GOGGLE-EYED GOATS hardback is now well and truly launched! A flash launch happened at the Rowley Gallery in Notting Hill last night. A less flash launch happened in the north of Burkina Faso yesterday lunchtime, where Charlie and I celebrated quietly with a plate of spaghetti at the auberge overlooking the lake. I had spent half the morning herding goats with my friend Abdulsalam, so I was in a very goaty (caprine? capricious?) mood. Radio/admin work has been quite full-on recently, so it was nice to get back to the bush and hear nothing but Abdulsalam’s gentle banter and the delicious sound of thirty goats munching pedal-pods.

Goat herding is not typically thought of as a good stress-reliever – people here talk of it as something of a nightmare assignment because goats are so wayward – but it’s very enjoyable when you know that the goats are not your own responsibility! I like carrying the long hooked staff and shaking down pods for the goats to rush in and chomp and listening to the kissy-clicky sounds of the real herders as they call their ruminants to order and stepping on a chilluki twig and feeling a thorn go right up through my sandal into my – no, wait, that bit I don’t like.

We’re having a proper Burkina launch for GOATS on 12 March in Ouagadougou, to be held at the International School of Ouagadougou. Reading, book-signing and goats-cheese-pizza-eating. If you can’t make the event, you can still pick up a copy of THE GOGGLE-EYED GOATS at Amazon or elsewhere.

Home Life radio drama goes viral in Djibo

Fulani radio drama group Burkina Faso

‘Going viral’ is an unpredictable social media phenomenon. Everyone is trying to produce content that will go viral, no one knows quite how to do it. Humour seems to be an important element, preferably something off-the-wall and quotable. Quantity of production is also a factor – produce a coalsack of content and there is more chance of finding a diamond in there.

I have been thrilled over the past few days to discover that Jonde Baade (Home Life), one of the radio dramas we recorded in the Djibo radio studio last year, has gone viral. Not on the internet, but on people’s phones here in the north of Burkina. Everyone has it now, it’s being listened to wherever you go, people are quoting it on the street, calling each other by the main character’s name (Bogga), trying to better each other with impressions. You can drive far out into the bush and approach the most unprepossessing grass hut – Bogga’s voice will greet you from within. It’s uncanny.

‘Home Life’ is a single-scene play about mistrust between husband and wife. A Fulani man sells his bull at the market, but tries to lie to his wife about how much money he received for it – with disastrous consequences. It is followed by a short biblical message about love and respect, especially in the context of marriage. I will try to produce a subtitled version for Youtube sometime in the next month.

The photo above is of the drama group who conceived and recorded ‘Home Life’. Closest to the camera is Bogga himself, played by Bukari Diallo. We have started to dream up other situations that Bogga could find himself in. Who knows – we could have a long-running soap-opera on our hands!

Fulani man milking a cow

To be Fulani is to own cows – and to own cows is to milk them. Sometimes it’s the man who milks the cow, sometimes it’s the woman. Sometimes this depends on the temperament of the cow – my friend Adamah told me that there are some cows that only his wife is able to milk. Here is a photo from a few years ago of the fundamental Fulani trinity: husband, wife, cow.

Fulani man milking a cow

For Sale in Burkina Faso – one black bull with horns as long as your arm

Siita Tal and his fine black bull in Djibo cattle market in Burkina Faso

I went to Djibo cattle market last week and got talking to Siita Tal from Deou. He had come to the market to sell this fine black Zebu bull. ‘Could you get a bit closer to the bull?’ I asked in Fulfulde as I lined up the shot.
A’aa, heyi,‘ he replied. ‘No, this is just fine.’

These little piggies went to market

pigs in Djibo market

Muslims are not big fans of pigs. Pork is prohibited by the Qur’an and pigs themselves are seen as disgusting and dirty creatures. In a town like Djibo, there is good reason for this – Christian-owned pigs spend a lot of their time wallowing in the open sewers at the side of the road.

The Qur’an encourages Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. But occasionally the Fulani hatred of pigs boils over into violence. In the nearby town of Burow last month, hundreds of pigs were massacred by Fulani Muslims who were fed up of sharing their neighbourhood with such disgusting animals. This is a hard part of the world in which to be a pig.

Walking with a Fulani cattle drive

I enjoyed writing the Fulani cattle drive scenes in my latest novel Outlaw. As I mentioned in the Afterword to the book, those scenes are based on a real journey that I took a few years ago, accompanying 4 Fulani herders and 96 cows on a loooong walk (nine days and nights, of which I managed four). We ate on the move, slept on the ground and had to keep a very sharp eye on those recalcitrant cows.

My main memories of the Fulani cattle drive are of the choking dust kicked up by 384 hooves, the sun’s blistering heat between 11am and 4pm, and the hilarious banter between Idrissa and his fellow herders. For the full story, have a read of this travel feature which I wrote for the Sunday Times.