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28 March 2019 / leggypeggy

Chipping granite in Africa—a tough way to make a living

Granite quarry, Korhogo

Poor John and I signed up for a day-long tour of some interesting sites near Korhogo in the Ivory Coast. I’ve already shown you the bead-making village, but the most heartbreaking stop was at an enormous granite quarry.

According to our guide, the quarry has been going for about 40 years and most of the hard labour is done by women. A couple of fellows (we saw one) use huge sledge hammers to knock off huge chunks of granite, but the women break these into ever smaller pieces.

Granite quarry, Ivory Coast

Granite in all sizes

Granite quarry, Ivory Coast

Granite chipping—a family affair

It’s sobering to realise that some of these women were born in this quarry and into this ‘career’. In turn, they have had children in this quarry and carry them on their backs as they work.

The granite—most of it is grey although some is pinkish—is used in construction and road works.

It was blisteringly hot when we were there, mostly without much shade. And as I sit here typing this—two countries further on—I can’t get them out of my mind. Who said slave labour does’t exist?

P.S. Some pic don’t have captions. You can see what’s happening.

Granite quarry, Korhogo

Women dumping the granite they’ve chipped. See the baby on the back (right)

Fellow knocking off large granite blocks

Using a sledge hammer to knock off big block of granite

62 Comments

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  1. lexklein / Mar 28 2019 9:39 am

    Very rough. I can see why that lingered in your mind, and in such a heartbreaking way.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Rhonda / Mar 28 2019 9:51 am

    An exrremely tough life. With probably no chance of escape from being born there. 😢

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:12 pm

      I hope education can bring a chance for escape.

      Like

  3. Nilzeitung / Mar 28 2019 10:38 am

    Toll Bei akuna matata, alles erdenklich gut, schöne zeit !!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. fragglerocking / Mar 28 2019 11:34 am

    Such a hard life.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Mar 28 2019 11:36 am

    Yes, I understand why this is sticking with you. We are so privileged.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. ralietravels / Mar 28 2019 11:52 am

    It is a hard life. It would be interesting to know more – husbands? husband’s work? children’s education if any? Perhaps the answers would be even more disconcerting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:05 pm

      Yes, I wish I knew more. That said, there does seem to be a commitment to education for children.

      Like

  7. shawnthompsonart / Mar 28 2019 12:20 pm

    Wow, that looks like very tough labour.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. macalder02 / Mar 28 2019 12:47 pm

    The photos, so accurate, give us an idea of ​​the trafficking of highly developed people in these places. The exploitation of women are patented in those heartbreaking images. A bad drink that I have to witness surely.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Dorothy / Mar 28 2019 1:50 pm

    The trouble with trying to mechanise jobs like this in Africa is that the heavy machinery needs to be maintained and they don’t have the skilled engineers. I have seen many huge diggers and other equipment lying rusting in Nigeria. As soon as they break down they are abandoned. Labour is cheap and in plentiful supply.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:08 pm

      Oh Dorothy, you have made excellent points. Thank you.

      Like

  10. lmo58 / Mar 28 2019 1:52 pm

    Oh Peggy! How desperately sad these women’s lives are. To be born into a quarry, and be carried as the child in one photo is, only to grow and have that as your life. No wonder so many people throughout the world feel helpless and hopeless.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:09 pm

      Yes, so sad. The extraordinary thing is that they still could give us a smile.

      Like

  11. gerard oosterman / Mar 28 2019 4:21 pm

    I saw similar heart breaking jobs being done in Bali. Women trudging up and down steep hills carrying six bricks on their heads, all day long for a building site. And metres away, tourist bargaining to get an even bigger discount on a bangle or set of earrings.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 28 2019 6:10 pm

      Great point Gerard. Bargaining is part of the shopping experience, but not cheating a person out of a livelihood.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. thewonderer86 / Mar 28 2019 7:32 pm

    Heart breaking.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. beetleypete / Mar 28 2019 8:47 pm

    This reminds me of the Middle Ages in England. Whole generations born into labour, as in the construction of cathedrals and castles. Living and working, and dying, on a building site.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. MichaelStephenWills / Mar 28 2019 9:21 pm

    Stone is tough stuff. What is the difference between this work and Michaelangelo? Was he a slave? Those people are doing a difficult job, who’s to say they don’t love it? Not for us to say. There is a difference between slavery and working through a difficult, poorly paying job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2019 2:51 am

      Doubt that these women feel they are creating art.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MichaelStephenWills / Mar 30 2019 6:25 am

        That is not the point. Your attitude toward the work was condenscending and inappropriate.

        Like

      • leggypeggy / Apr 8 2019 4:16 am

        That was certainly was not my intention. My comments reflected the guide’s description of the work and its history.

        Like

  15. buyingseafood / Mar 28 2019 9:24 pm

    I used to cut granite in a quarry, often with hand tools and it was the most grueling experience in my life. Granite dust is also very bad for your health, often leading to death by silicosis.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. derrickjknight / Mar 28 2019 9:39 pm

    Horrific

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Christie / Mar 29 2019 2:13 am

    I noticed right from your first picture there were only women at the quarry. It is heart breaking to see the women conditions. I might not want to know where their men were..
    Good post, Peggy!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2019 2:52 am

      Thanks. There were some men working, but not many.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christie / Mar 29 2019 1:11 pm

        I was just wondering, do they have matriarchal traditions over there?

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2019 6:29 pm

        I think some of the West African cultures have matriarchal traditions, but not sure to what extent.

        Like

  18. Chris Riley / Mar 29 2019 11:04 am

    Oh Peggy,what an awful, great post. Absolutely heart breaking to witness, even second hand. I’m sure those images will be with you forever. It’s a great reminder to anyone fortunate enough to be born in the western, over privileged world – to be grateful!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Mar 29 2019 1:21 pm

    Life is so hard in much of the world. We should be so very grateful for the luxuries we think we’re entitled to and realize it all comes on the back of someone sweating in the sun, doing hard labor. Truly images to think about, Peggy. No wonder they’re still on your mind two countries over. Africa is more than safaris and waterfalls.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sy S. / Mar 29 2019 2:06 pm

    Chipping Granite in Africa surely is a very difficult heart breaking task, as mentioned and the photos show. However, there are much worse lifestyles for making a living (in order to survive) in Africa, like mining; https://www.brilliantearth.com/conflict-diamond-child-labor/

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2019 6:35 pm

      Excellent point Sy. Child labour is an issue in much of Africa.

      Like

  21. Alison and Don / Mar 29 2019 2:56 pm

    Heart breaking 😦
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

  22. pvcann / Mar 29 2019 11:04 pm

    Yes, and then I hear whining when the power goes out or the doctor cancels your apt. sigh

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Popping Wheelies / Mar 30 2019 3:34 am

    Oh, my. What is there to say, or at least what someone hadn’t already said? Counting my blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Invisibly Me / Mar 30 2019 3:41 am

    A bittersweet thing to be grateful for when you need a job but it’s like this 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Curt Mekemson / Mar 31 2019 10:42 am

    Makes me wonder if it was an overseas corporation that owned the granite works, Peggy.
    My observation in Liberia, BTW, was that the women often worked harder than the men. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 8 2019 2:09 am

      Women worker harder than the men in much of West Africa.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Apr 11 2019 7:59 am

        I’d watch the men sit around and drink cain-juice while the women loaded their babies on to their backs, grabbed their machetes, and marched off to harvest the country rice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 14 2019 9:11 pm

        And the kids learn to use machetes when they are about two years old.

        Like

  26. jeanleesworld / Apr 22 2019 9:06 pm

    Heartbreaking, indeed. And I’m certain these women are hardly paid–slave wages. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

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