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President Overcomes Fetish

Life President Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo has apparently survived a supernatural attack. According to the Ghanaian Chronicle

a delegation of penitent fetish priests from the local voodoo Anyigbaton Hunorgah fetish shrine of Klikor in the Volta Region of Ghana was shown making a pilgrimage to Lome, begging President Eyadema to free them from a demonic curse…Looking remorseful, the fetish priests, led by Togbui Soglohogah Amewuda Akumey, narrated how two well known Togolese opposition leaders had come to their shrine in Ghana to offer them some drinks and large sums of monies for the sole purpose of “the spiritual killing” of President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo…He said that… their rituals boomeranged and backfired into the nightmare of fatalities in which their children began to die, strangely one after the other every other day…“Since we performed the rituals to kill President Eyadema, our families have never known peace, with our children dying one after the other,” he said regretfully.

The President received them “unamused” but with “compassion” and forgave them, and so hopefully broke the curse.

Now, might this by any chance have been set up to some degree? You would think that travelling to Togo to tell the President that you have conspired against him is likely to be a one-way trip. But this kind of thing is just what Eyadema’s image is made from. As was noted by Charles Piot, summarised here:

In the mid-1970s, Eyadéma walked away from a plane crash, leading to stories of his invincibility and magical powers. Cleverly, Sarakawa, the site where the plane went down, was made into both a national shrine/pilgrimage site, and the name of a day of the week (in the north).

Once Eyadéma had acquired this reputation of invincibility, other events fed into it. A few years after the “miracle of Sarakawa”, an assassin entered the presidential palace and shot at Eyadéma from close range. In a ghostlike fashion, the president walked away unscathed when the bullet lodged in a small notebook in his breast pocket.

Also, confessing wrong-doing before Eyadema is bit of a ritual. Ebow Godwin, a Togo-based Ghanaian BBC correspondent who filed the Chronicle story, has reported similar events in the past:

When 29 people were found dead in a Togo lagoon six years ago, the local fetish priests carried the bodies to foreign embassies and cast spells against the Eyadema army…But now the priests said they were wrong…The priests chief concern was to be exonerated by the gods, but in the course of their “confession” they added that it was opposition leaders, not the Eyadema troops, who had killed the men in the lagoon.

And what’s more, a group of Togolese deserters confessed to attacking Eyadema in 1993. After the plot failed, one of the conspirators mused that “Maybe, it was an act of God that we did not succeed to assassinate Eyadema after all…We were manipulated by the politicians who were only hungry for power, we came back to ask President Eyadema for forgiveness, and pardon”.

Eyadema would seem to be a regular Buddha of compassionate forgiveness. Unfortunately, though, his “magical powers” don’t seem to have done much for the people of Togo.