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By Kavicandra Swami
While trying to leave Nigeria, I learned many things, which I will not bother you with. But if you ever travel in West Africa, carry US$ cash; otherwise, things can be quite troublesome.
Charlyboy went to the airport to see me off. The ticket clerk was so bewildered that she forgot to ask for the payment. It was a slow time but those who were there were quite impressed that I was with Charlyboy.
I was hoping to fly to Ivory Coast. That required a change of planes in Accra, and I was waitlisted, but I tried anyway. They would not sell the ticket, so in Accra there was a big run around and I ended up missing the flight. That was on Sunday.
The devotees in Accra were not expecting me, so I had to get a taxi. After a lot of haggling about the price and trying to tell the driver where to go, I was off. At the last minute, one fellow came up and explained where the Hare Krsna Temple was. The driver, Daniel, had a nice Christian prayer posted on the dash.
I pointed that out, and he asked me to preach to him. I explained about the importance of good behavior and forgiveness. I also explained the six enemies: lust, greed, anger, illusion, envy, and madness. He appreciated everything, and we had a nice drive. At the temple, I turned him over to the devotees for settling the price. When I came back to see if he was satisfied, he was absorbed in a discussion with the devotees. He settled for slightly less than the usual price. The next day when we got to the airport, he spotted us from far away and came running to greet us, wondering if we remembered him. That is the nature of the people there.
Most of the devotees were away on traveling sankirtan, and there was a big soccer match, so very few were at the Sunday program, since all the taxis in town were busy and it is quite far. So I had private time with our school staff and the students. In the morning most, of the 75 students, who are from the local village, come into the temple for kirtan, and they are very sweet kirtaneros.
I caught the morning flight to the Ivory Coast. In Lagos they had told me it was full, so I tried Sunday. Of course it turned out to be very much empty. In Abidjan, the devotees greeted me just as I got off the plane, since one of them was some kind of officer at the airport. I didn't even have to show my yellow-fever card.
At the temple we had a blissful kirtan. Many of the neighborhood children come for kirtans and they really get going. I am basically very dried up, but Lord Caitanya is very kind to send me to places were their nature is to sing and dance.
Varaha Prabhu, the regional secretary, had arranged a three-day public seminar, which was advertised nicely. Since one of the congregation members has a big position in the library system, we were able to use the National Library auditorium. The group who was there ahead of us was going way overtime and did not want to stop, so they turned of the electricity, and a small riot ensued. That is normal, and we got down to business. Attendance was quite good and the interest in Krsna Consciousness was very high. The Indian matajis cooked nicely, and everyone had prasadam. That was daily for three days.
There wasn't much time for anything else. In the evening I showed the Mahabharata, which is subtitled in French, and a big crowd was enthralled for three hours every night. The temple is small, but they are looking for land, and the people are very nice.
On Saturday Morning we went for a radio show. The president of the station, who usually does not work on Saturday, came just to do the show. He was very fired up and asked questions like this: "Since the Bhagavad Gita is so much superior to the Bible, do you think the writers of the Bible studied the Bhagavad Gita?"
They air the shows again and again. If there are any preachers out there who speak French, I hope you can find time to visit the Ivory Coast. When you come please bring some French-language books with you.
The Sunday night flight to Accra was canceled so I got the Monday night flight, which ended up going at about 3 am the next morning. That is par for the course. The African people are very spiritual, and I am fortunate to be able to have their association. I have to intellectually convince myself to engage in bhakti yoga, but for them it is quite natural. In the Ivory Coast the basic material facilities are always working, so if you are thinking of coming, don't worry. For Americans, no visa is required, and that is probably true for most Europeans.
© CHAKRA 7 May 2002
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