By Bhakti Carudesna Swami
On Saturday December 23rd 2017 ISKCON Lomé organized its second padayatra in Togo. Around 45 devotees from different countries of West Africa met in Lomé, the country’s capital: Yuga Prabhu, the west African Council chairman from Ghana, Vrajendra Dhulal and Tribhuvanath Prabhus from Nigeria, Candrasekar Prabhu and Bhakta Séverin from the Republic of Benin, and myself from Côte d’Ivoire. Vrajendra Dulal prabhu was on his way to his native Nigeria, but, being a disciple Lokanath Maharaja, he decided to stay for the program, saying, “Padayatra is my Guru Maharaja’ s program, I can’ t afford to miss it. I must stay and attend it.”
The 27 km walk started from Avedji Limousine, the center of Lomé at exactly 11.45 am. Like last year we had a banner with the writing: TOGO PADAYATRA 2017, MARCHE POUR LA PAIX (Peace Walk). This time there were no tear gas, it was rather peaceful and the security was perfect. Yuga Prabhu and Bhakta Kagni held the banner in front of the procession, followed by the kirtana party and the book distributors. We walked through different places, including Assiyeye, one of the biggest market in the city. We stopped there for about 45 minutes for a tumultuous kirtana and book distribution to satisfy the excited market women. The crowd ecstatically joined and danced in the kirtana without hesitation. From there we proceeded to Massalassi Highway where we had to walk in line because of the heavy traffic in that busy area. The security agents were perfectly doing their job while curious passengers were watching the procession from their vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles. In most of the big cities of Togo there are many Zemidjan men, a name for people riding motorcyles,
We ended the walk at Adetikope, which is on the way to the neigbouring country, Burkina Faso. There were many people as a trade fair was being held there. When we arrived at Adetikope, the fair participants were very amazed to see our procession with men, women and children dancing and joyfully chanting the maha mantra. Our ISKCON Sankirtana booth became the center of attraction for everyone in the fair. While curious were asking questions and buying books, many prasadam plates were distributed. We sold a total of 90 books. Padayatra Togo ki jaya!