A stressful time, most people would agree. The removals trucks, the changing of the mailing address, the stopping of utilities and amending driving licenses all take time, are important and just add to the pain.
In a lot of places in the world we move house for work, or for more space but in southern Chad its very simple.
When there is no grass for the cows and camels, they move house. The whole house.
I’d been working in the area for a few weeks and was aware of the village nearby, as I’d see the young herdsmen taking the cows out during the day, but hadn’t realised it was time to go until they walked past me.
I had a chat to the village chief and he explained that things had been fairly dry recently, and there was too little food for his cattle, so they would move about 15 miles to the north of where they currently were.
The chief’s senior wife was an imposing lady, tall, softly spoken but incredibly fierce. No doubt aided by the power of her husband, but one word from her and people (men and women) moved.
I’d got used to seeing the great horned cattle coming past the side of our worksite in the mornings, and told the chief I was going to be sad to no longer see them. He told me not to worry and indicated where they were going to settle, asking me to pay them a visit from time to time (as long as I bought water!!)
The entire convoy took about an hour to pass, from the lead to the stragglers at the back, the camels (that I somehow didn’t manage to get a picture of) were laden as heavily as the cows, but seemed to not even notice, their haughty stares as disdainful as all camels the world over.
I did go and see them once they’d all moved in. I left them a week to arrange the houses and sort out their daily lives and then turned up with a land rover full to the brim of water filled cans. The chief invited me in, we shared a drink, had a chat for an hour and I left them. The memories of the little kids scratching my arms, as they couldn’t understand why I was the wrong colour, still makes me smile.