Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa

1385 words 6 pages
Anita Grooms
Anthro 110
T-TH: 9:30am-10:45am
Dr. Anderson

The United States is known for the “American Dream”, the material items, our breakthroughs in medicine, our employment opportunities, etc. These are just some of the things the United States has to offer, but the United States also has a downfall to all of the “good” things in life: we think our way of life is better than everyone else’s, and we often judge other countries, especially Africa, for their way of living. We often ask the questions, “What if we go to help them?” or “How can we help them?” when the real question is: “What can we learn from them”? Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa is a non-fiction book written by Katherine Dettwyler, who
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The children even help out financially. For the women, not only do they have the responsibility of caring for the children, but agricultural responsibilities as well. These include fetching water out of the wells, gathering and chopping firewood, millet or corn to be pounded, fruits and leaves to be harvested from the kitchen garden, meals to be cooked (three meals a day), the compounds or houses to be swept, and washing their clothes. They are also in charge of attending to the fires that are used for cooking and also an important economic chore, which is sorting and roasting karite nuts (Dettwyler 1994: 108). A very intense-labor for the women of Mali is making vegetable oil from the karite nuts and not only do they have to spend several weeks collecting the nuts, but also extracting the oil (Dettwyler 1994: 124). In a western society, men are usually the ones who are seen as strong and do intense labor, but in Mali, the men harvest the fields and the women take care of everything else. As far as disease and malnutrition go in Mali, it is a major misconception in western societies that there is an overwhelming amount of it. What we as Americans do not realize, is that they do not see malnutrition as a bad thing. The people of Mali believe that malnutrition cannot be stopped, even though technically