Mark Eveleigh portfolio - WIDEANGLE
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Even the most mundane of everyday chores can be governed by a complicated web of fady (taboos). I once visited a village where, since time immemorial, it had been forbidden to move cattle on Tuesdays or Thursdays. If a cow was lucky enough to break into a cassava plantation on Monday night she would be free to remain there, feasting unmolested, until Wednesday morning. When the furious farmer finally went to drive her back to the pastures he would invariably be bare-chested, since another fady decreed that it was forbidden to tend the cattle wearing a shirt. The village headman explained the delightful logic behind this: "The zebu know that their owner always comes to collect them without a shirt on. So if bandits come one day to steal them, the cattle will see their shirts and think ‘uh-oh, this can’t be right,’ and run away."

Even the most mundane of everyday chores can be governed by a complicated web of fady (taboos). I once visited a village where, since time immemorial, it had been forbidden to move cattle on Tuesdays or Thursdays. If a cow was lucky enough to break into a cassava plantation on Monday night she would be free to remain there, feasting unmolested, until Wednesday morning. When the furious farmer finally went to drive her back to the pastures he would invariably be bare-chested, since another fady decreed that it was forbidden to tend the cattle wearing a shirt. The village headman explained the delightful logic behind this: "The zebu know that their owner always comes to collect them without a shirt on. So if bandits come one day to steal them, the cattle will see their shirts and think ‘uh-oh, this can’t be right,’ and run away."

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