Menya Work Ethic
Ever since we moved into Menya, we have marveled at the lack of ambition or consistent work-output among a people who are clearly fit and capable of great exertion. It seems strange that they have not accomplished more with their resources. They are not lazy people, but they are often idle. When we see them work (either for us or in their own gardens) we see strenuous and diligent effert. But it comes in spurts. Digging from 7:00-10:00am can be a full day’s work and I would not expect more than three full days in a single week. Building a house, which could be accomplished in a week or two, can be stretched over multiple months. Until recently, this disconnect between potential and actual effort has been a nagging mystery.
Last week I was talking with Wati about different categories of spirits the Menya people believe in and the characteristics of each. We discussed the “hiwiyuqu”–spirits who are usually invisible living in a parallel reality but can interact with us. I found out that the hiwiyuqu can kill people and “take” them into the hiwiyuqu world. As it turns out, the hiwiyuqu are most interested in promiscuous individuals and industrious. The hiwiyuqu assume that a person who works tirelessly in this world will continue his pattern in theirs thus providing utility. Therefore, people are careful not to work so hard that they attract the attention of the hiwiyuqu. This may not be the only factor influencing the Menyan work ethic, but I have confirmed with others that it is a genuine fear. I wonder how many generations this belief has been shaping the lives of the Menya people.