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September 05, 2008


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*My translator is Tutsi*

Assigned to you or hired by choice? Are there Hutu translators? Would it have made your job easier or more difficult over all to have a Hutu translator rather than a Tutsi?

Doug M.

We hired local consultants. (Yes, Burundi has consultants. Consultants are everywhere, and have been forever. There are consultants in the Bible.) And the local consultants were, of course, Tutsi; as noted, they've been occupying the high grounds of business, trade and education for the last 50 years. Like, I met with about 20 bankers? I think 2 were Hutu, three were foreigners, the rest were Tutsi.

So, naturally the facilitators hired Tutsi translators. I can't even fault them on that. One, of Burundians who've had the chance to get fluent in English, most are probably Tutsi. And two, Tutsis are going to hire fellow Tutsis. I suppose we could have forced them to find and hire Hutu translators -- we're paying the bills -- but would that really have been such a good idea?

Doug M.

Noel Maurer

Sir: please email me regarding Ecobank. I have no doubt that you can see why.


Doug, thanks for the explanation. I wasn't trying to take you to task, just curious as to whether it was a conscious decision to hire a translator from one tribe or the other.

Mike Ralls

> There are consultants in the Bible.

For real or for joke?


For real. For instance, Exodus 18:13-23.

After Moses leads the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt? He sits in judgment on all their disputes. (This is in the Sinai, but before he goes up the mountain there).

Moses finds that this is incredibly time-consuming and inefficient -- he's spending all his time on these stupid disputes, instead of praying to God or leading the people -- but he can't think of a better way to manage things. Fortunately his father-in-law, Jethro, comes to the rescue:

When [Jethro] saw what Moses was doing for all the people, he said, what is this that you are doing? Why do you sit, while all the people stand around you from morning to evening?

Moses said to his father-in-law... "When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another."

[Jethro] said to him, "What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

"You should... look for able men among the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain... let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you."

Jethro: world's first management consultant.
And he wasn't even an Israelite -- just a wise old nomad who'd let his daughter marry the charismatic exile from Egypt. But then, consultants are usually outsiders.

It's an obscure episode, but actually a pretty important one. Those guys Moses appointed? They'll show up a few chapters later as the Judges, and they'll rule Israel for the next couple of centuries. Also, this sets a precedent -- which goes all through the Old Testament and clean into the New -- that prophets aren't supposed to be secular leaders.

Doug M.

Gareth Wilson

I thought you meant Matthew 24:24...

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