On a recent flight a Malian discovered that his seat was next to a female traveler. He was very delighted and considered it a blessing to sit next to a woman. He explained the importance of women with a Mande proverb:

“When somebody gives you a woman (or wife), he gives you a whole neighborhood (or town district, quartier, fr).”

Knowing how many African women are forced to bear more children than is good for their health, I remarked “Let’s hope that she is not worn out before she finished producing the neighborhood.” To which he replied, “But that is her calling in life, to be worn out, to suffer.”

I could not have agreed less, but realized that we have very different world views.