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Baba is not someone who bothers people. I had seen him playing alone with the sand by the water drum, but not really paid much attention to what he was doing.
Only today I discovered his game: Baba is building a miniature well. I called to Ibrahim laughing and said : “Look here, you have found an apprentice engineer.”

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Baba has dug a deep narrow hole in the wet sand near the leaking water drum, and he had installed over it a wheel and a thread that imitates our digging equipment.
After a while, I became curious to see what was attached to the thread at the bottom of the hole. I went back to the drum and I pulled up the rope. At the end of it was attached a replica of our cement cylinders and even  the bag that the workers use to send the sand up.

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We all laughed a lot, astonished by his intelligence. Ali and I took this opportunity to ask  his grandfather something that we had in mind for sometime now.

 “Send Baba with Ali to Timbuktu. He will care for him and make him study. Baba is too clever to spend his life running after goats, he must go to school. When he has grown up and has had the schooling he may be able to be of great benefit to you and to your people.”
Ali confided me that Baba could become a chief of his people.
The grand-father refused immediately. After much discussion, he agreed to send him to the family of his elder daughter in Timbuktu. Baba will sleep there and Ali will be able to take care of him.
It is understandable that the old man fears that his grandson may be stolen from him. Knowing that he’ll stay at his daughter’s house has  reassured him. Ali will take care of his health and of his education. We will also take care of his clothing. Baba will not be a burden on his daughter.

Today the grandfather has prepared Baba for travel with his good dress, and the boy is shining with happiness. When I explained  he should wait until the well is finished, Baba was very downcast and sad. He had to refrain from crying. But until the work is finished we shall not be in  the city to take care of him. I want him, above all,  to see the epilogue of the story of the well so that it will remain in his mind as he grows up.

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The fact that he is so promptly ready to leave his old life for a new one is a sign of a great spirit. Maybe Ali is right and Baba someday will be the chief of his tribe.
More than once Ali has shown to have visions of the future.

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