The Bleating Edge
Yoked goat, Haiti, 2006
In 2006, I was invited to Haiti to research a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer
, which serves the 300,000 people of the rural Artibonite Valley. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, beset by AIDS, tuberculosis and hunger, and the Artibonite Valley is the poorest region in Haiti. Most of the people live without electricity or running water, and yet despite news reports we receive of violence in Haiti, I found them to be exceptionally warm and dignified.
Walking through a village, my host and I came across this goat with an eccentric device around its neck. Clunky but effective, the wood yoke prevented the freely wandering animal from walking through the openings in fences (made from the cactus-like brambles that are visible behind it) and into yards and houses. As is so often the case with indigenous design, the yoke’s unexpected form and simple logic caught me by surprise.