Monday, May 14, 2007

Life in a coffee estate- hard work or exploitation??

There is nothing interesting in a coffee estate but being a young girl or boy growing up in central province, it’s worth it.

As a teenager, the major hurdle is waking up at 4am, one must monitor the lorry moving up before strategically lining up by the roadside and wait for the rope to be lowered down, and the “turn boy” hoists you up.

This marks the beginning of a hectic day.

Rewind!!!!! Why would a teenager go to the estates??

Of course there is nothing good about child labour but the joy of making your own money is overwhelming. For those who don’t have parents to shower them with money and gifts, it feels good to have your own money and the liberty to spend it.

On the other hand, the more money you make, the more you set yourself aside from the other lazy bones.

This was probably one of the reasons why we would walk about five kilometers to a coffee estate just outside the town I grew up. We would gather around every morning and walk there, this happens when there is no transport.

After 5 pm, we gather and compare our money, and vow to do better the following day. To us, it was the formation of the spirit of hard work and competition.

But there is a thin line between child labour, competition and hard work.

There are various reasons why teenagers, not children work in the estates, but when this work is forced and exploited, then it becomes something else.

Just like Bill Clinton delivered newspapers when he was young. If there were any coffee estates in his region, am sure he would have taken the offer.

Get me right, I am not advocating for child labour, I am only looking for the constructive side of it.

So, read on……


Alexander said...

A perceptive and insightful article, devoid of the expectable clichés.

Yes, you depict reality as it is. I know it, for my friend worked under almost the same conditions in the tea fields of her parents. Cheaply bought smarmy phrases of the well-off Global North against "child labour in the Third World" do not catch the reality in shags. Your article is aware of that.


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