How much does Odie satisfy people's imagination of poverty? - Tiger Sniffing Network#
Once a European who came to provide international aid saw the local living conditions and wondered what meaning there was in these days that were worse than death. She asked a local person, "Have you ever thought about suicide?" The local person scoffed at her, considering it an insult, and showed a row of big white teeth, saying, "Isn't my life good now?" ⤴️ ^05026c01
Because they haven't experienced anything better and lack a point of reference, they don't feel that their current life is bad. But now that the internet is so developed and information is so abundant, is there anyone who doesn't know what a good life is like? I am really arrogant to say such a thing.
"I admit that we don't have money, but we live very happily." From the discussions and laughter that occasionally erupt on the streets, and the dancing drum teams, one can tell that they are genuinely happy. After all, compared to the wars and massacres of ten years ago, isn't the current "era of peace" much better? ⤴️ ^3de07062
It's much better than before. So all the problems arise from comparison. Without comparison, there are no problems.
Ordinary people in extreme poverty generate an atmosphere of mutual sympathy and assistance, and the goodness of human nature is magnified in extreme poverty. ⤴️ ^594acc1d
Extreme poverty is an adjective. In present-day China, there are actually more people with wealth and a conscience.
How much does Odie satisfy people's imagination of poverty?#
This article introduces the story of the banana transporters in Burundi, a country in Africa, known as "Odie," who live difficult lives in poverty.
• Odie bravely faces the difficulties of life in extreme poverty and shoulders the responsibility of supporting their families.
• Odie transports bananas to the market by riding mountain bikes, bringing meager income to their families.
• Despite facing the risk of death and extreme hardships, Odie maintains an optimistic and cooperative spirit, showcasing the goodness of human nature.
Odie has swept the Chinese internet, and every true man wants to be like Odie, riding a "mountain bike" and speeding through the mountains and ridges. Today, let's take a look at why these banana transporters from Burundi, Africa, known as "Odie," have become so popular.
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Video: Bilibili @ Guanghua CUFE
Odie Tassein is only 22 years old, but in our eyes, he is a young man who has just graduated from university. However, he was born in Burundi, where the average life expectancy is only 61 years and the median life expectancy is only 17.6 years.
Tassein is now a middle-aged man who needs to support his family. Despite never having attended school, he already has a wife and two children.
Tassein said in an interview that he can't even afford new pants. Photo: Documentary "The Most Dangerous Road in the World: The Road to Heaven in Burundi"
In the deep mountains and forests of Burundi, the banana industry contributes the largest economic value. Farm owners with orchards can grow bananas, and those with technical skills can make banana wine. Those who do not have any production resources or information engage in "transportation" - transporting bananas to nearby village markets or the capital, Bujumbura.
Therefore, in order to support his family of four, the strong-bodied Tassein became a banana rider.
Tassein unloading bananas at a banana beer brewery. Photo: Documentary "The Most Dangerous Road in the World: The Road to Heaven in Burundi"
As a qualified banana rider, both technique and balance are essential. A rickety mountain bike, carrying 8 bundles of bananas weighing 200 kilograms and Tassein weighing 70 kilograms, speeds at 70 km/h on the rugged and winding mountain roads.
If the brakes are suddenly applied at such high speed and pressure, the tires are likely to burst, sending both the rider and the cargo flying. For "safety" reasons, the brake pads are removed first, and the bike relies solely on uphill slopes to slow down.
Tassein and his Odie companions speeding along. Photo: Documentary "The Most Dangerous Road in the World: The Road to Heaven in Burundi"
As Tassein speeds down the road, there are still some common scenes: accidents where people and vehicles overturn can be seen everywhere along the grassy edges, and brothers squatting on the roadside to solicit business while going uphill. They earn a few cents by helping the Odie riders push the heavy bananas uphill. The uphill riders focus their attention on clinging to the back of trucks. Although they have traveled this road thousands of times, they still pray that there won't be any unexpected rocks or mud pits that will throw them and their bikes off the road.
There are also women on the roadside carrying heavy loads and blistered feet. The Odie riders secretly feel fortunate that although riding a bicycle is very hard, at least they don't have to carry children and goods like the women, relying solely on walking up and down the mountains...
A true master never chooses equipment. The Odie riders, who have never attended school, have mastered aerodynamics perfectly and skillfully applied it. The semi-scrap mountain bikes repeatedly break through the physical limits on the mountain roads, tamed by the Odie riders. With a command from the chief commander of the mountain bike team, the banana army proceeds in an orderly manner, with a common goal, maintaining relative stillness and charging downhill, reaching a level of training that is no less than that of the Burundian government army.
The mountain bike carries everything. Photo: Documentary "The Most Dangerous Road in the World: The Road to Heaven in Burundi"
Environment determines destiny. If any member of the Burundian banana army is taken out to participate in the European cycling championship, they can easily win hundreds of thousands of euros in prize money. However, for the 2-day and 1-night transportation that challenges the limits of physics and physiology at the risk of death, the Odie riders can only receive about 20 yuan in transportation fees from the Burundian vendors.
20% of that amount has to be bribed to the traffic police who collect tolls, and 2 yuan is used to replace the dangerously worn-out tires. They cannot stay too long in the capital's bustling market, and the remaining money has to be rushed back to their wives to buy cassava flour and other food.
During uphill climbs, the Odie riders need someone to help push the bikes, paying the pushers 10 cents every 15 minutes (equivalent to about 70 cents in Chinese currency). Photo: Documentary "The Most Dangerous Road in the World: The Road to Heaven in Burundi"
What kind of environment has honed the Odie riders' driving skills that touch the soul?
The country where the Odie riders live, Burundi, has been rated by the United Nations as the "poorest and most unhappy country in the world" for 60 consecutive years. In 2022, Burundi's GDP is $3.2 billion, with a per capita GDP of $250, equivalent to an annual income of less than 2,000 yuan in Chinese currency, and a monthly income of about 150 yuan.
But don't think that low income means low prices.
Like most other African countries, Burundi has no industry and is extremely dependent on imports. Everyday household items that are easily available to us, such as towels, basins, and slippers, can be shipped from Yiwu for only 9.9 yuan, including postage. However, once these small commodities are transported to Burundi after a difficult journey across the sea, the high shipping costs have already multiplied the prices several times over.
In Burundi's supermarkets, a towel costs 30 yuan, a hat costs 50 yuan, and a pair of slippers costs 40 yuan. In other words, some Burundians have to work hard for a month without eating or drinking just to afford a new set of toiletries, let alone other expenses.
Burundi has a population of 12 million, with 89.6% living in extreme poverty. The population density is as high as 400 people per square kilometer, three times that of China, and half of the population is children under 14 years old. Under various natural and man-made disasters such as AIDS, schistosomiasis, malaria, hunger, and violence, only 3% of the people in Burundi can live beyond the age of 70.
Therefore, although the work of the Odie riders faces the risk of casualties every day, in their country, they are already living a relatively comfortable life.
Some people may wonder, with the spirit of hard work that the Odie riders possess, couldn't they find better-paying jobs in any industry?
The answer is: No, the conditions do not allow it.
Burundi is not a large country, but it faces numerous complex problems in terms of history and geography, making development difficult.
Most of the infrastructure here relies on international aid. Photo: AMU
Historically, since the 15th century, the Tutsi people, who account for only 15% of the population but have a stronger military force, have ruled Burundi, while the Hutu people, who account for 84% of the population, are the mainstream ethnic group. There has been deep-seated resentment between the two.
From 1993 to 2006, the civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi people made life in this country unbearable. Although there is now a ceasefire, large-scale assassinations, uprisings, and conflicts still occur frequently, to the extent that even "running" has become a banned activity. To this day, all seven of Burundi's past presidents have not had a peaceful end due to issues of political power transition.
Geographically, Burundi is located in the highlands and its economy is mainly based on agricultural production. Agricultural production accounts for 40% of Burundi's GDP and almost all of its exports. 90% of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods.
However, the natural conditions in Burundi are not suitable for farming. The soil in most parts of the African continent is not as fertile as people imagine.
During the ice age millions of years ago, glaciers repeatedly moved in temperate zones, reshaping rocks and soil. The frequent tectonic movements in Eurasia's history have made the soil relatively active and fertile.
Africa, on the other hand, has never collided with neighboring continents and has not been washed by glaciers, resulting in ancient and compacted soil. Any nutrients that are produced with great difficulty are taken away by various animals and plants that consume soil energy. Especially in the highland areas of Burundi, the soil contains a lot of rocks and is very infertile.
Another major condition for agriculture, rainfall, is not necessarily favorable in Central and East African countries represented by Burundi: either it rains every day and houses are flooded for months, or there is no rain for months. Bananas are a crop that can relatively adapt to this rainfall cycle, so they have become the main economic crop in the mountainous areas of Burundi.
Inadequate innate conditions and even more limited acquired conditions.
Africa lacks education, and its people do not have access to technology and knowledge. At the same time, they have not domesticated animals suitable for farming to free up labor. After all, zebras and humpback cattle are difficult to tame, and they can only keep having children to replenish labor. Burundi's birth rate is as high as 9%, making it one of the countries with the highest birth rates in the world. On average, one woman gives birth to six children.
In such harsh living conditions, only such a high birth rate can ensure the continuity of this ethnic group. With a newborn mortality rate of 40% and a child mortality rate of 20%, the Odie riders who can grow into young adults are already the lucky ones in Burundi.
Looking back at history, either the continent's environment is suitable for human civilization to develop, or an open environment gives rise to maritime civilization. Burundi does not fit into either category. Transportation is a major problem in Burundi, and the overall infrastructure in Africa is extremely backward without international aid. The mountain roads that the Odie riders can speed on were constructed by Chinese companies such as China Road and Bridge Corporation, China Geo-Engineering Corporation, and companies from Jiangsu, Chongqing, Anhui, and other places. However, to this day, most of the roads are still rugged dirt roads.
Does Burundi have factories? The answer is yes, and that is the only sugar factory in Burundi, the Moso Sugar Factory. This factory provides some job opportunities, but it has also formed an oligopoly. Instead of benefiting the local residents, the profitability of the sugar factory has monopolized the sugar price, driving it up to more than double the price in neighboring countries. The ordinary people of Burundi can hardly afford this essential commodity.
In such a social structure, with layers of oppression, lack of stability, lack of organization, and lack of governance, ordinary people have no opportunities for advancement. Most people in the cities live day by day, reaching out for money when they see foreigners, without direction or motivation to improve themselves. People in rural areas, like the Odie riders, exhaust all their energy on the survival line, struggling hard.
The Odie riders are a microcosm of the difficult survival of Africans, but what moves us is their ability to smile in the face of hardship and their resilient spirit.
People in developed countries have everything they need, but they still can't find happiness: they work hard to send their children to private schools, burdened with heavy mortgages and car loans, and raising a child can deplete the entire family's savings. Although they may have more than enough for basic needs in life, it is still not enough to be happy. Africans, on the other hand, have nothing, not even the guarantee of survival, so their happiness becomes simple. The only desire in life is to stay alive and have a full meal.
==Once, a European who came to provide international aid saw the local living conditions and wondered what meaning there was in these days that were worse than death. She asked a local person, "Have you ever thought about suicide?" The local person scoffed at her, considering it an insult, and showed a row of big white teeth, saying, "Isn't my life good now?"==
Interviewing a random person on the streets of Burundi, their innocent faces are full of hope. They say, "Burundi is the best country. We just need the government to manage it well, and it can become the richest country."
Some people respond to the United Nations' definition of Burundi as the "poorest and most unhappy country" by saying, =="I admit that we don't have money, but we live very happily."== From the discussions and laughter that occasionally erupt on the streets, and the dancing drum teams, one can tell that they are genuinely happy. After all, compared to the wars and massacres of ten years ago, isn't the current "era of peace" much better?==
If you ask a Burundian for directions, they will patiently guide you to your destination. Even the Odie riders, who earn very little, still have empathy when they see a single mother vendor with four children and are willing to give up some of their meager profits to help. ==Ordinary people in extreme poverty generate an atmosphere of mutual sympathy and assistance,== and the goodness of human nature is magnified in extreme poverty.
The flag of Burundi, with red representing the blood shed in a century-long struggle for freedom and independence, green representing hope, and white representing peace.
As true men, the Odie riders face extreme hardships in life without lying down or running away, and they do not participate in violent armed activities. They shoulder the burden of supporting their families at a young age, and despite the meager rewards, they give their all, meticulous and conscientious, living without regrets and with a sense of accomplishment, bringing hope and peace to their small homeland.