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Why couldn't white people do their housework themselves, as they usually do in Europe? Did not the "boys" reveal in reality the odious character that the metropolitan attributed to the colonials: laziness, pride, the mentality of an upstart, an oppressor of the poor and the weak exploited for wages of misery? These are, in short, the prejudices attached to the use of boys by their colonials.


Everyone around the world prefers to offload the most routine and tedious tasks for the benefit of those that are most rewarding, both personally and professionally. This is, basically, the reason for the use, here of boys, elsewhere of servants, men of the house or housekeepers.


But the colonial situation provides other, more specific explanations, which are still relevant today for Europeans currently residing in tropical countries: maladjustment to the climate which makes manual work difficult, an overabundance of professional work, lack of facilities for European life, social status to maintain, need for an intermediary between the "boss" and the natives, etc.


For the boys, the opportunity offered to settle in the city, even if it was only a position in the bush, to earn the money that would allow them to build the dowry necessary for any marital union. and the constitution of a family, privileges too often reserved in the customary environment for the rich polygamists - to acquire the materials necessary for the construction of a single house which would free them from clan communitarianism - to ensure a more pleasant life by buying the bike and the radio of their dreams - to access better medical care and better schools for their children, to offer beautiful loincloths to their sweetheart, etc. More deeply, did they want to escape to a customary society which stifled individualism and entered, through the back door, into this other world which seemed to promise them personalized advantages and social advancement inconceivable in their environment of origin?


We must also pay tribute to the "boys" for having been able to develop with the understanding "bosses" a kind of specific relationship, inter-ethnic complicity, mutual protectionism, each taking the side of the other in case of difficulty with members of his own group. Solidarity "boss-boy" sometimes came to ask the question "who protects the other, or who provides for his needs, or teaches him, without seeming to, which is most useful in the vagaries of colonial life? "


There were also, unfortunately, bad bosses, who, by mimicry, only managed to find bad boys. Life then became a daily struggle to who would best "roll" the other and thwart his schemes. Generally, the boy prevailed, and the boss was more and more deceived: he became the gendarme whose entire household discreetly mocked.


At Independence, the boys often made themselves the defenders of their boss. For them, the bad whites were the others, and their boss the exception. There were a lot of exceptions, almost all white people having one or more boys. The bad white man, even when he really was, thus became an abstraction worked out by politicians: all white people were bad in principle, but none were in particular bad. In a few years, this concept of boys spread throughout the population, so that the white, bad collectively but good individually, can now circulate everywhere, even in rebel regions, in peace. Which missionary, which planter, which NGO was attacked long ago, other than by thieves or looted soldiers, only because he was white?

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