In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove

by Carol Spindel

Carol Spindel, in her book In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove, gives this explanation of why the greetings used in the West African community where she lived were generally blessings: e.g., “May God give your children life.”

“This giving out of blessings was more than polite utterance. It was a way of sharing hope, for people in Kalikaha needed hope to survive. No abstract relationship with deities who lived far above, this was a gritty daily contact with two deities who seemed, through people's words, to be always present in the village with us.”

This is “the story of a one-year sojourn in a single African village as seen through a single pair of eyes.” Although the village is in the Ivory Coast, elements of the story will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in Togo. Spindel accompanied her future husband on a trip to West Africa, where he was doing research for his PhD. in cultural geography. She made a serious effort to learn about the local culture, and offers many interesting insights and anecdotes in this book. This book is not an adventure yarn, and doesn't read like one... but it's a good read for anyone with fond memories of Togo. My rating: *** (out of ****).

This book is available online from Amazon Books.

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