Monday, July 7, 2008

Idol or Protector

This is an idol in the village of Aklakou in Togo. It's at the outskirts of town. Once they'd had a Roman Catholic crucifix in the center of town, but they moved that out claiming it had brought them bad luck. I couldn't imagine how anything could have been any worse in that primitive, isolated, 19th century location. I'm trying to use harsh language because it really is even worse than you can imagine, even by Togolese standards! The crucifix sits further outside town with it's back to town. This idol sits between the crucifix and the village.
Further into town their is another idol, and then around town there are many "babies" which are small stones. It's all pretty foreign to Western sensibilities and thinking. But there was some revelation in all this for me a couple of years ago in my first visit to the village. The local people don't call these idols. Instead, they refer to them as the "protectors."
Now that's an interesting, new way for me to tackle this. Turns out there are many "protectors" in my life which I rely on. These are monuments I set up in my world which give me a sense of stability, priority, safety, protection. These aren't rough stones, but polished weapons, agencies, governments, entities. I won't enumerate them for you. Chances are it's a rather lengthy list if we are honest.
Hmmm, maybe I'm not so different from the villagers in Togo after all.

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