Bread and Bureaucracy

I received the wrong type of visa for entering the country as a researcher, so, whilst waiting for questions around the visa irregularity to be solved, I have been discovering more of life in Libreville. Something that can nearly be described as German Bread fell into my arms in the supermarket, and I moved to a new guesthouse run by a truly wonderful American missionary couple, and with wi-fi, which was like a new lease of life, not constantly having to run to internet cafes.

'Purple ladies' from right to left: Alace, wonderful manager of the guest house, Céline, responsible for all things practical around the house, and me, on a study break.

One of the bureaucratic aspects here is that each time I go to Minvoul or Makokou, I need a so-called ‘ordre de mission’, a document which entitles me to be in the area and, in my case, to work with the Baka. I must get this paper signed and stamped by the province’s Governor and Prefect, and several other authorities the last of which is the village chief – and I’m in trouble, if I don’t go through this procedure. In return the authorities including the gendarmerie (police) are responsible for my safety and well-being.

My first Ordre de Mission

Proud stamps from the governor, the prefect, the sub-prefect, and the chef de village

Over the last few weeks, I have had many conversations about my experiences outside of the capital which helped put things into the Gabonese context, and I attended another anthropologists’ viva (oral exam for doctorate). I’ve been to some funky concerts and other cultural performances, such as Annie-Flore Batchiellily, Gabon’s very own politically active singer-songwriter. As I have to get taxis everywhere, I urgently wanted to do some sports, and I have started to go swimming regularly at a local sports club. Here on the equator, the sun sets around six thirty and nightfall is immediate, so I get to swim under the stars by 7pm (19:00 Uhr) – life in the tropics does have its advantages.

One of my favourite places in Libreville 🙂


Another thing I have discovered is that Africa really has a different sense of time than we know it in Europe, or even no sense of time at all – bizzarre and challenging at first, but interesting and enjoyable when you start adapting to it. But it’s the festive season in many parts of the world and so I wanted to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy and successful 2011!

My very own little hand-made X-mas tree - complete with 8 different light settings

5 Responses to Bread and Bureaucracy

  1. Cheron says:

    Hi, my dear! Season’s greetings, and congrats on your new great place, proper bread, and pool. Enjoy them all, and best wishes for 2010! Hugs. -cc

  2. Vera says:

    Dein Baum ist toll 🙂 Ich wünsche Dir auch einen guten und ganz bestimmt unvergesslichen Rutsch ins neue Jahr! Alles Liebe aus Köln, Vera

  3. Beatriz Grimalt says:

    Hey!! Just cheking you and trying to subscribe. Have a great start of the year in the tropic xx

  4. Kerstin Wittelmeyer says:

    Hi Dörtiii,
    wenn Du mal wieder on air connected bist, sag mir wie es Dir geht. Kölle ist langsam eisfrei und alles geht so seinen Gang. Wie kommst Du mit den Menschen klar? How is life?


  5. Tante Brigitta says:

    Hallo Du!!!! Wo du wohl jetzt gerade bist? Hast du den etwas schwierigen Start gut erlebt? Mir gefällt dein blogg und ich werde wohl immer mal wieder reinschauen. Alles Gute
    “deine Tante”

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