Since four months I’m living with an old couple, in a hilly village, in the center South region of Togo.
I rent a room for $4/month. I slept on a small bed, and everyday the old lady heats up water for me to wash my body.
Every night she serves me hot food made with herbs, cheese, mustard, and so much love.
They didn’t know me before, but after four months I’m now like part of the family.
I travel often, but my home for few more weeks will be with the old couple. I learn a lot living with strangers and ordinary people in various places over the year.
People look at me strangely, because they could feel that I’m not as ordinary as I pretend. They want to know more about who I am, where I come from, and what I stand for.
Today, few old buddies of the couple came to visit on the occasion of easter.
I listen to the vivid conversation and at some point one old man said, ‘the rain ruined our easter fire yesterday.’
‘Yea. It was the first time ever we got rain on easter. I’ve never seen that.’ continued my host.
‘Yes, they’ve got to bring fuel to pour over the sticks for them to burn’, said another oldy, making a frustrated face.
‘Do you celebrate easter?’ my host asked me.
‘No. I don’t. It’s a foreign culture we celebrate without understanding it. It’s neither a Christian event. I celebrate only our ancestors events.’ I responded.
My sentences sent a shock in the assembly, because everyone seems to celebrate easter these days.
‘Don’t you? Why? !! Then tell us, young man, why don’t you celebrate? ‘ said one of our guest.
‘Easter is an ancient customs of Europeans. It comes at the end of winter. Winter was a very difficult period for ancient Europeans. Four to five months of cold and dark winter, they can’t do anything except hiding in the house, in the dark, often with little to eat. They live from food they have succeeded to harvest during hot time. Some time they did not have enough food to last until the end of winter in March or April. So when the snow start melting away and they could see the ground, ancient Europeans would gather in the evening and make fire over the night, chant, make noise as ways to chase winter away. That’s the reason why there this tradition of making fire during easter. For Europeans fire is made to chase away cold winter.
You know, when I was living in Europe, I took part in such easter fire and noise making events with young Europeans who brought old clothes and stuff to burn on melting snow…’
‘humm… That seems very interesting. So why do we do that in the church, we have no winter here.’ asked one of our guest.
‘I don’t know. I think we do it because white people do that, even if it make no sense for us. Normally, during this period of March, our ancestors do something similar to Europeans easter. They make offers to the gods to ask for rain and good harvest, following the long tropical hot season from October until March. In fact we should be doing our ancestors water ceremonies, like going to make offers to rivers and forests.
Our ancestors would never make fire which is hot in this hot season. It makes no sense.’ I responded.
‘wow… We look ridiculous doing such things. If a European would look at us doing that, he might laugh at us.’ one of our guest said.
‘what should we do? We always celebrate easter that way?’ asked another guest.
‘I don’t know. But we really look ridiculous burning those sticks our wives need to make fire, to celebrate an event which makes no sense to us’.
They asked me few more questions about how white people live in Europe. I was happy to share my experience. I also asked them what are the secret for long and healthy life. They shared some secrets with me.