Goro-Dicko, the man behind the smile

Goro-Dicko unknowingly became the face of the Pulaku Project. We’ve posted his captivating grin throughout our website, and his image elicits countless questions and compliments.

IMG_3725.jpg

Goro-Dicko is a regular at the Goumori market, and Christoph took his photo as a snapshot while strolling the market in July 2009. It wasn’t until several months later that we realized his smiling face would come to represent our project. His grin evokes optimism and playfulness while the wrinkles show his wisdom and his facial tattoos testify to his Fulani identity.

20110212-IMG_1900.jpg

We returned to Goumori to kick off the Pulaku Project in the village where we first became friends and began documenting Fulani culture. Arriving in Goumori on market day, we invited Goro-Dicko for a little chat, hoping to get to know the man behind the smile.

20110212-IMG_1895.jpg

Goro-Dicko has lived in Goumori his entire life. Unlike most Fulani men, he has no wife, so he spends his days visiting friends, chatting in the market, and exchanging stories. He enjoys his role as an elder and was excited that we wanted to ask him questions. He recalls a bygone era where Goumori was little more than a cluster of Fulani camps surrounded by forest. Today things are much different, as Bariba farmers settled the region and today they represent the majority of Goumori’s population. Good pastures are harder to find, and the forest has been transformed into fields of corn and cotton. Asked about changes in Goumori, Goro-Dicko explains that the biggest difference is that people have become ambitious in pursuit of money. Both the Bariba and Fulani are intoxicated by money, and they have expanded their fields to increase their harvests. While subsistence farming used to be common, much of today’s harvest is loaded into trucks for sale in the big cities.

Goro-Dicko’s observations are representative of the challenges that face the larger Fulani community. We didn’t know it at the time, but we chose the perfect face for our project.

20110212-IMG_1906.jpg

When we explained that we’d be departing soon on our long journey, Goro-Dicko took Christoph’s hand for one last walk through the market:

20110212-IMG_1552.jpg
20110212-IMG_1927.jpg

We are finally on the road, exploring northern Benin before we continue westward into Togo. By the time we upload this blog, we should be ready to roll with all our papers in order, and shiny new license plates on the bikes. It’s show time!

Share

One Response to “Goro-Dicko, the man behind the smile”

  1. StillSkinny says:

    Goro-Dicko surely represents the spirit of the project, at a time when the Fulani culture should be explained, understood, and shared.

    Christof, by the way, your hair looks wonderful, and your smile full.

    We all wish you a safe and enriching journey with enchantments around each corner!

    Ian