Agpe Popcorn Learning Togo Ewe Language Lome, Togo West Africa Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I am becoming Togolese.
That is a scary thought, I hope to take the good and leave the bad, I am sadly aware I will take a little of both.
However, the good! Agpe Popcorn.
I do a daily stroll through the neighborhood; it is how I become Togolese. I like the popcorn they sell, I have my own personal popcorn woman, she is nice, and I claim her as my popcorn person. The other day, I almost cried, hard to believe I can say that, half way do it, nonetheless, the truth is I was so touched by this women I almost started to cry.
I thought later, I am going go take her photo and try to say those words, some dream of writing touching words that explained what I felt. I started to, and I could not, she is not for sale, she is mine, and yours.
What happened? I purchase two 25-CFA bags of popcorn daily, this is about 10 cents US, I try to give the lady correct change because I like her, I reserve the big money for the stores I do not like.
She knows me, I know her, no words are needed, she sees me, she knows I will grab two of the clear plastic bags of popcorn and give her either 50 CFA or drop it down into the plastic tub as is the custom here. They store the coins in the tub, or under the small towels that serve as table clothes. If I cannot find the vender, then it is self-serve, I just place the coin down, and I make my change and continue on the path.
The level of honesty at this level is amazing in Togo Africa, they leave money just sitting around in the open, one days pay here, can you imagine putting 100 dollars in the coffee area at work, and this is what they do.
I do the transaction, I say, - Merci, -
This is French, I now she speaks the local Ewe Language 99 percent of her daily life, however I do not speak Ewe so, I say in the business language French, - Merci - Alternatively, thank you in French.
I look at people, I do not ignore people, as I give her the money, I grab my wrist as is the custom with offering of money, semi-do a small bow, she is woman of respect, older, I must be, I just must be… I am becoming Togolese.
Then it happened! She looks back at me, nods her head, and says, - Agbpe -
I look around, I can feel the piercing of my soul, this women just reached inside me, I can feel her touching me.
She is saying, I am you, you are I, we are together, however now as you are my son, you should say, - Agbpe. -
I repeat, - AackPay - - AaghBay -
She repeats, I try to repeat, I do not have an ear for languages, this is tonal language, and I know I need to hear it many times to say correctly, I have to stop thinking, I am to repeat the word.
She has now adopted me, she is my teacher, and I am her student, as I become Togolese. I think, and I hope she said Thank You in the Ewe Language.
There is an art to learning about people, it may be you need to be touched, and allow them to touch you.
I was touched, and life is indeed good.
Agpe Popcorn Lome, Togo West Africa Wednesday, June 19, 2007 06 degrees 07.155 North 001 degrees 12.598 East 10 Meters of altitude above sea level
Three-quarters of a block North of Galion Hotel, Lome Togo Please say, - Agpay -
Do not worry about the spelling, I hope she will correct you…
For a real treat, watch her pop the popcorn, she will very so lightly add some salt, test the popcorn, shake it, add, adjust, then test again, she makes sure the popcorn has just the right amount of care.