Tag Archives: Mantra for Unity

Historical Manifestations of Poverty and Class Divisions


I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  With the African sun beating down, I don’t have much energy for a vigorous yoga practice, so I find a nice shady spot and if I’m lucky, one that comes with a breeze, and I’ll settle in with a book.  I was gifted with many electronic versions of books ranging in subject from yoga to Reiki, fiction stories to historical non-fiction.

The fact that the books are electronic posed a bit of a challenge, given the constraint of electricity here.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to be in a city that has electricity even for a small window most days.  Out in the rural areas, electricity only comes from a generator, and those are few and far between.  I’ve discovered, though, that the smartphone I have will hold electronic copies of books, and will also be recharged by my computer.  Thus, I bounce back and forth between laptop and cell phone devouring book after book.

I’ve been reading a lot of Dickens, as well as more contemporary fiction and non-fiction set in the late eighteen hundreds and also encompassing the two world wars.  I’m struck by the descriptions of the poor because they mimic what I’ve observed here in Africa.

Dickens describes a world of poverty coexisting next to a much smaller realm of wealth and privilege.  He speaks of trash building up in the street and the smell of human waste running open in throughout London.  While the human waste disposal here does not run in the streets, the trash is omnipresent.  There is also a huge disparity of wealth, with a small sliver of the population living well above the poverty level that most Guineans occupy.

An ostentatious house sits well back from a roadside covered in the build-up of trash

An ostentatious house sits well back from a roadside covered in the build-up of trash

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