by Vijaya dasa
(Iskcon Sankirtana Minister)
I just finished visits to Nigeria and Ghana. Devotees in both countries are nice and enthusiastic to hear about Krishna and book distribution. The leaders sincerely stick to Srila Prabhupada’s desire to distribute books, and the result is that the books are going out. They are poor countries, so it’s not easy to distribute books, but still people read the books and become devotees.
Srila Prabhupada went to Africa five times, so he had a desire that the people of Africa take to Krishna consciousness. When he came the first time, he saw that the devotees were preaching only to the Indians, so he told them, “No, everyone is a spirit soul, and anyone can take to Krishna consciousness, so preach to everyone.” Then the devotees let the local Africans hear the glories of Krishna, and soon the indigenous devotees were established.
Now in Nigeria there are eight temples; in Ghana four; in South Africa five. In Nairobi there is one of the most beautiful temples we have, and so many more are all over the continent. This really helped me appreciate the greatness of Srila Prabhupada: Where there was nothing, now there are many vibrant ISKCON temples.
I’ll tell you a sankirtana anecdote I heard from a devotee in Nairobi.
Thirty years ago the devotees in Nairobi were making life members and giving Srimad Bhagavatam sets to new members. One who received a set put it in his closet and there it sat, about fifty books. A few years ago this man passed away. He had a big house, so his children and grandchildren moved in. They were sorting out his belongings and found the set of books. They didn’t know what to do with it, but it looked nice, so they put it in the main room on the bookcase. One grandchild was asked by his mother to read it. So he did. He was seventeen at the time. Finding it to be a good read, he finished it and by then he was convinced of the philosophy and eventually moved into the temple. Now his mother, cousins, brothers, and practically the whole family are devotees – all from a set that was sitting unused for thirty years. Like a time bomb, it was ticking away, waiting for a fortunate soul to take advantage of the Absolute Truth.