A Democracy of Guns and Spirits

A Democracy of Guns and Spirits

Ten years ago I taught English to the children of subsistence farmers in Togo, a tiny country on the west coast of Africa that I once thought I knew. But when I went back recently to a town seven miles from the village where I’d lived as a Peace Corps volunteer, I could no longer find my way around. The big outdoor market in the center of KpalimĂ©, the sprawl of tables and stalls where I used to come on Saturdays to buy pineapples and eggs and wave flies off my lunch and listen to the chatter of the girls pounding yams, was gone. The old military regime had declared it an eyesore and soldiers had razed it in 1989, on the eve of a presidential visit. The market was now a mud flat. But just across the street, the twenty-foot statue o...


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