01 April 2012

The Man with the Key

Undoubtedly one of the most significant person in rural areas is The-man-with-the-key. Who holds the key holds access to resources. In my experience there is often only one key to a door. And thus when at a door the issue is 'who has got the Key?'.

Conveniently, on most of our doors the key number is scratched in the wood above the lock. So when the key is really lost, with most mortice locks in the country being of the same low-cost supplier, one can relatively easy source an other one. The number also helps when The-man-with-the-key has got a whole bunch of keys, so one can match the key with the door, and does not have to test them all.

The challenge lies in to match The-man-with-the-key with the door, to be able to pass through it. Of course, the person is somewhere, and one has just to find her/him. The person could be at home, could have left 'for town' and handed the key over to someone else, or might be in the fields.

This weekend it took almost 24 hours to find The-man-with-the-key to open a power cabinet that supplies the internet equipment of our Internet Service Provider. The person's phone was off, and a pursuit was launched via people in his vicinity to track him down. This morning I was chartered to drive to his house about 5 kilometers away, where the LinkNet associate hunted him down. He was busy in his fields. Thus found, The-man-with-the-keys was instantly available, got his keys and we drove him to the equipment cabinet. With the door opened, after some investigation, a power fuse was found off. Resetting the fuse restored the internet feed. Then we brought The-man-with-the-key back home so he could continue his day.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that, on average, it takes about one hour to get a door opened. This process includes a number of phone calls and travels and searches to meet up with The-man-with-the-key. Then, of course, after access has been secured and the work done, the reverse process takes place to facilitate the return of the key.

Fanon states that, in an environment like this, a person must constantly aware of his image, jealously protecting his position. Such can be witnessed in the daily dance around access to resources. And The-man-with-the-key holds one of the major keys to that!