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A question of balance

Andrew Harding | 16:15 UK time, Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Apologies for the long absence. I'm just back from an unexpected trip to Chile, where I was lucky enough to report on the miners' rescue. Hats off to the rescue team (a truly global effort, including some South African technology), to the Chilean government which handled the whole affair with great verve and efficiency, and to the resilient miners and their families - I spent 10 days living alongside the latter in the cheerful anarchy of Camp Hope - a clutter of tents and caravans in a desert moonscape just outside the mine entrance.

But back to things African... Trudging through reams of unopened emails in Johannesburg, I've come across this new bit of research about an activity that I would guess millions of people across the continent - particularly women - do every day.

Women carrying buckets on their heads in Africa

It's always an impressive sight - and almost impossible for a novice. But is head-carrying done for reasons of convenience, habit or culture? I had always assumed it was a mixture of all three, and had something to do with the lack of straps and other alternatives in poorer, rural communities. Does anyone with personal experience have any insights to offer?


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