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Arriving in Accra at 0430 was a bit of a problem. My visa was not in order, but after some heated discussion I got in on a 48-hour permit. We were able to extend that with some endeavor, and the week was a whirlwind of action.
First we had a TV program at 0900. That was at the GBC (Ghana Broadcasting Corporation). They are quite favorable. Actually I don’t remember which days were the radio and which were the TV, since we were going sometimes twice daily. One show was on the subject of senior citizens. The commentator was very sincere and wanted to know our opinion as to why old people were being neglected. After the show he accompanied us to a program at a Roman Catholic organization for seniors. These folks lived with their families and just attended programs at the place.
They were dancing very nicely with the kirtan when I arrived. We spoke a little philosophy, and they asked very intelligent questions. They said they respected me just like their Pope. They very happily took Krsna Prasadam, and as they left, most of them stopped to thank us for coming. The GBC filmed the whole program and was very impressed.
In Ghana there is a serious problem with AIDS, and government has posted many billboards saying, "STOP AIDS." They advise various tactics, the first of which is "BE CELIBATE." They were promoting me as being on a tour for "World Peace," and radio and TV shows centered on that. They were especially interested to know how I managed to remain celibate. After the last TV show most of the staff came up asking for books, and one boy stayed asking questions until he was dragged away for his next engagement. Srivas Prabhu, the Regional Secretary, goes regualarly and has very good relations with the GBC.
Then we were suddenly called for an engagement in the far north, which meant a 12-hour drive. We left in the afternoon, after the normal time spent repairing the car and looking for spare tires. We drove halfway and stayed over at Kumasi, the next biggest city. There are many devotees there, and they greeted us very blissfully. On the way we stopped for kirtan and prasad at Nkoko, where there are also many devotees.
We left early to get to Tamale (Ta Ma Lay) for early morning programs. There, we were to meet some very interesting people who are very favorable to Krsna Consciousness. The main man was Dr. Abdulai. He was born Muslim but is simple and very saintly and loves Srila Prabhupada’s books.
He left his job as a surgeon at the government hospital because he was distressed to see that poor people were not able to get treatment. He just started treating anyone, from the madmen up. His wife started distributing food to the madmen, who are otherwise ignored by society. He did his first operation under a mango tree on some land outside the city, which was not claimed by anyone. He never asked for anything but gave free treatment and medicine to whoever came along. He lost a lot of rich friends because when they came for treatment he had them wait in line with the madmen and very poor, first come first served.
Now he has two large complexes and donations are coming unsolicited from all over the world. The US government built a hospice. He told me that he believes basically three things: God is omnipotent, God is omniscient, God loves him. He believes that God loves everyone, and the way we treats his patients reflects that. He was very happy to have us there and said very sincerely that he thought we were doing the best thing by giving the patients God.
They all were very happy to get prasadam and hear the kirtan. I told the devotees that we should learn from him. He is simply giving everything he has to help others, and he is getting all kinds of help. He started with very little but didn’t worry about it and did surgery under a tree, removing a tumor from a madwoman’s nose. Now he has a large all-volunteer staff and is very busy. In spite of having malaria at the time, he came out to greet us.
The Indian community there is small but very successful and very pious. One of them has Tirupathi Balaji for his business partner. He told us how he happily waited for three days to have a darsan.
One of them, Naresh Shukla, is a young man He stayed on when his employer left the country. He worked for a big cotton company and felt that they were exploiting the farmers. He started helping farmers, and in spite of many big companies being unhappy with him, he now works with 30 farmers and gets a lot of grants for overseas. He still drives a motorbike and is more like a brahmacari than many of ours. If any would like to go there and work with him he would be very happy. He would like to help our projects but he needs an honest person to manage what he is doing.
In the evening, we had a sweet program with the Indian community, and a few of Dr Abdulai’s staff. We did a homa yajna and I showed the Bhagavad Gita Interactive, which they loved. One Dr Abdulai’s managers was a schoolmate or Srivas Prabhu, so it was a nice reunion.
On the way back we stopped again at Kumasi for lunch and moved on. Again we stopped at Nkoko to return some things. At that time, we noticed that the gas line was leaking. It took some time to bandage that, but in the meantime one nice 4WD stopped. The driver was a Christian minister who trained people in management and other things, specializing in sending missionaries into the far-away villages. He had been wanting to meet Srivas Prabhu and had somehow decided to stop by this devotee’s house. So we saw Lord Krsna’s hand in the whole affair and had a nice exchange. We made it back to Accra late on Saturday night.
This Sunday feast was very crowded, and as usual the kirtan was "awesome." I noticed that many of the children were chanting very seriously and were focused on Sri Sri Radha Govinda. I asked about them and found that they were village children from the school. One especially ecstatic dancer was from a Muslim family.
I had the children lead the kirtan and it went on for hours. They had such sweet voices and sang so sincerely that everyone was stunned. I can imagine if Visnujana had been there he would have said something like, "So many hearts were melting that the liquid flowed together, and we had to collect it in buckets and afterwards everyone was seeing Krsna everywhere." Or something more poetic and profound. Surely, as he used to describe, we had to mop up the sweat from the floor.
The school children did a nice drama of Lord Brahma stealing the calves and cowherd boys. Some of them also recited Sanskrit Bhagavad Gita slokas. It was a very far-out day.
The next day was Lord Nityananda’s appearance day. We started with a TV show and then a fire yajna. Many of the village children appeared. Everyone was praying for the safety of HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami during his surgery. I had to fly out for Mayapura that night. Although the ticket agent said that my name was not in the computer, after ringing up the office and waiting while the girl argued with someone on the phone, we found that he had just entered my name wrong, so I was able to fly.
I transited London Heathrow on the way to Delhi. It is always blissful to go through London because I always meet many devotees there.
I’m sorry if this is a bit long and devoid of astute scriptural commentaries. My amazing Godbrother, HH Indradyumna Swami always includes deep realizations, but I am not on that level, and can barely remember the events. I pray the Vaisnavas will bless me so that I can become a useful preaching tool in Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
I have enclosed one photo of an anthill. The photographer was not experienced and cut off quite a bit of it. The ants dig down to the water level and bring mud. The structure is very solid. Srivas Prabhu told me the children like to break in to get the queen, who is about 5 inches in diameter and a very fatty delicacy.
© CHAKRA 2 May 2002
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