尼日尔人是我见过的最不乱吃东西的民族。他们的作物以黍子和高粱为主，蔬菜只是常见的土豆、生菜、白菜等，口味十分单调、固 定。他们只吃前人吃过或者当地普遍认可的食物，如果以前没有吃过或者没看见别人吃过，他们不会轻易去尝试。我们在医疗队驻地种了好些中国蔬菜，收获时，拿去送给当地人，他们都不吃。有一次，我们炒了一盘丝瓜给门卫乌迪一家送去。乌迪尝了一口，皱着眉头许久都咽不下去，最后只好吐出来，抱歉地对我们说吃不惯。孩子见此情景也都摇摇头，不愿再尝试了。我怎么都不理解，按理说丝瓜不苦不 涩，怎么就吃不下呢？不单是乌迪吃不惯，其他门卫也吃不惯，可见尼日尔人的口味真的很顽固。
also shook their heads and didn’t want to give it a try. I couldn’t understand. Loofah was neither bitter nor sour, why couldn’t they swallow it? Udi was not the only one. Other janitors wouldn’t try it either. Nigerien people really had stubborn palates.
The Quran stipulates that animals and livestock are forbidden to eat when they die on their own. In this great famine, there were many animal corpses lying around the village, but local people would rather starve to death than eat their meat.
During the famine, the Nigerian attitude of mutual aid also impressed me deeply. Even the poor, whenever they got a bite, were willing to share it with those poorer than themselves. Therefore, although there were many beggars on the street, few people were starving to death, since they could always get something to feed their stomachs. Once, we gave some leftovers to Udi. When he was about to give them to his children, an old beggar appeared at his door, asking for help. Without any hesitation, Udi gave half of the food to the old man, which was very touching to us. He was more compassionate and generous than us. What we gave him were only leftovers, but what he handed out was the lifeline food for his family. His kindness was also the reason why we didn’t let him go even though he could be quite lazy sometimes.
Older generations in China remember that in the 1960s, a great famine hit China. At that time, people ate whatever they could find to survive. But in the famine of Niger, no one went to peel bark from the tree or dig wild herbs to relieve their hunger. When the rainy season came in June, various plant seeds sprouted from the ground. Among them were many familiar wild herbs, such as goutweed, shepherd’s purse, and white cauliflower, which all grew in abundance on the roadside with no one to pick them up. On one occasion, when some pedestrians saw us pulling white cauliflowers and learned that we planned to eat them, they were so surprised that their eyes went wide with sympathy in their expression. They must have thought that these Chinese people must have been desperately famished to eat those grasses.
In the village of Hilanda, we saw many bird nests hanging on locust trees like ripe fruits, and traces of fallen and shattered bird eggs could be found on the ground. Still, no one went to catch birds or pick up bird eggs to relieve their hunger. We also often saw turtles resting in the shade of house, but none of the Nigerians caught them to make nutritional soups for their gaunt bodies. There were many kinds of wild animals in the local area, including antelope, squirrels, and large lizards, which could be seen quite often in the wilderness, yet no one was hunting them. On more than one occasion we found a large lizard which had strayed into our house. This kind of lizard is called “five- clawed golden dragon” in some areas of China, which used to be adelicacy on rich people’s table. One year after the famine and one month before we returned to China, we went to the capital Niamey for business. When we passed by Dosso, we encountered several wild giraffes sauntering across the road. The sight of all these made me feel ashamed for the thoughts flashing through my mind, I couldn’t help asking myself this question: “If it were Chinese people living here, would there be so many deaths due to starvation on this land?”
We have different beliefs and habits, but no matter what, having seen so many wild animals live happily on this barren land after the famine, we can’t help revering Nigerien people for what they’ve done.
( From ChineseDoctorsina SmallAfricanTown , Guizhou People’s Publishing House. Translation: Lu Qiongyao)
上了年纪的中国人都记得， 20 世纪 60 年代，中国发生过的大饥荒。当时，人们为了生存，把能吃的东西都拿来果腹。但在尼日尔的饥荒中，没有人去扒树皮、挖野菜充饥。六月份雨季来临的时候， 埋藏在地里的各种植物种子纷纷发芽，有很多我们常见的野菜，如羊角菜、荠菜、白花菜等，一大片一大片长在路边，没人采。有一次，我们在那里扯白花菜，几个行人看见了，得知我们要弄回去吃，一个个惊讶得眼睛瞪得大大的，表情中还掺杂着些许同情——想必我们这些中国人快饿疯了，才如此饥不择食。