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A Community on Stilts in Benin

“GANVIÉ is one of Benin’s premier tourist attractions,” states a travel guide to West Africa. Says another: “Africans themselves are fascinated by Ganvié; you’ll see as many African tourists as westerners.” Ganvié is indeed unique. It is a village of 15,000 inhabitants that is built on stilts above the waters of

Discrimination Against Females

These are not isolated cases. In Africa thousands of girls and young women are sold into slavery, some for as little as $15. And it is reported that each year hundreds of thousands of young girls are sold or forced into prostitution, mostly in Asia. Worse still, population figures for a

Marriage—Why Many Walk Out

FOCUSING on divorce in Hong Kong, where Eastern and Western cultures exist side by side, Asia Magazine observed: “Lack of communication, infidelity, sexual difficulties and incompatibility are factors which are usually at the heart of marital conflict with both Chinese and Western couples.” The story is the same elsewhere

Bifocals—Who Had Them First?

Two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin took two pairs of glasses, one for distant vision and one for near vision, and cut each in half horizontally. Then, in the same frames, he mounted the upper half of the distant lenses on top of the lower half of the near lenses, and behold, the first pair of

The Benefits of the Rain Forests

The Benefits of the Rain Forests IN 1844, Greek scholar Konstantin von Tischendorf spotted 129 sheets of an ancient manuscript in a wastebasket in a monastery. Tischendorf walked away with the priceless leaves, and they now form part of the Codex Sinaiticus—one of the world’s most famous Bible manuscripts. That treasure was rescued in time.

The Cock-of-the-Rock—an Amazonian Jungle Beauty in Brazil

The Cock-of-the-Rock—an Amazonian Jungle Beauty in Brazil EVEN matter-of-fact naturalists end up waxing poetic when describing the Guianan cock-of-the-rock, a dazzling, little-known bird of the Amazon rain forest. “A mass of brilliant flame,” wrote one. “A fiery comet,” said another. “Difficult to surpass in . . . sheer glamour,” concluded a third. The sight of it, they all

Look at the Places We Call Home

“’Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”—John Howard Payne. WHAT do you call home? A well-constructed house built by professional builders using modern materials? Or a house built by its owners using materials found in local surroundings? Let us take a quick look

Matera—City of Unique Cave Dwellings in Italy

ABOUT 50 years ago, some thought that the strange dwellings had become a kind of Dante’s “inferno,” leading the authorities to decree their evacuation. Partially repopulated, they have now even been included in the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, safeguarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). What are we talking about?