A Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa talks about a 'fairy' legend and account that he had heard from a group of friends in the village where he was staying.
The following account was forwarded to me by my friends Cam & Kyle at Expanded Perspectives:
"I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo (West Africa) from 2012-2014 working on environment and agriculture projects. I was placed in a village called Bitchabe (pronounced Bitch-Ah-Bay), which was fairly small with maybe 1,000-1,500 people living there at the time. In their language (Bassar) the village name meant ‘People of the Forge,’ which was their main business until the advent of colonialism, etc. when they transitioned to farming. The village is nestled in a relatively flat area near the top of a small mountain/big hill, so if you leave town you’re mostly heading downhill toward farmland. I had made friends with a group of guys that worked at the local health clinic (they were all in their 30s-50s) and we had a habit of getting together at one of their small stores after they all got off work to chat and have a few drinks of Agbingii (the main hard alcohol available, which was made from distilled palm wine).
One of these afternoons, after I had been thinking about cryptids for some reason, I decided to ask the guys if they had ever heard of Bigfoot. They hadn’t so I told them what little I know about it, then I asked if they had anything like that in the area. They responded, ‘Absolutely, we have fairies that live on the other side of the hill there.’ I’ll admit I was so surprised to hear them use the word ‘fairy’ that I had to get the French dictionary out to make sure we were talking about the same thing. Turns out they were definitely using the right word, but their descriptions didn’t match anything I had heard.
I asked them how they knew they were there, and they explained that when they were teenagers the side of the hill they were pointing toward was where you went with your girlfriend when you wanted to hook up, like a make-out spot in the woods. When they would go out there sometimes they would hear high-pitched voices call out their names and beckon them to come deeper into the woods. They were adamant no one would be playing that kind of joke out there, as it happened to lots of folks and the voices apparently didn’t sound human. Everyone seemed to know it was a bad idea to follow the voices deeper into the woods. This community has long traditions of animistic religion, so they place a lot of faith in there being malicious spirits embedded in trees, stones, etc. throughout the landscape.
I asked my friends what these fairies looked like, and they said they had one leg, one arm, one eye, one ear, and one curly hair on top of their heads. I had never heard such a description, but Googling it recently I came up with a type of fairy that pops up in Scottish traditions named the ‘Fachan.’ I imagine a Scottish descent priest could have come to the community back during the Christianization of the area and put this idea in the community’s conscience, or two completely distinct cultures on different continents were witnessing the same thing.
In any event, as we kept talking over these fairies they brought up a neighborhood gentleman who, if I remember right, was named Kwamee. Kwamee was a nice guy but had a really hard time with verbal communication, and my friends said they knew Kwamee when they were growing up, and that he talked perfectly normally. That is, until his teenage years when he disappeared for three months. Apparently Kwamee up and vanished after going to the side of the hill we’d been talking about one night and wasn’t found until he popped up in a village 30 km away three months later, at which point he had completely forgotten how to speak. He had gotten back some of his speech skills over time but he was far from fluent. Everyone seemed to agree that the fairies were responsible for this.
I’m not sure what to make of the whole thing. If the story like so many others had been created by parents to keep kids away from a dangerous area, there should have been some natural danger like a river or cliff over there, but there wasn’t. That section outside of town was no more perilous than any other, and they didn’t think the fairies were all around in the wilderness, just on that one section of hillside. All I can personally guarantee from this story is that Kwamee was a real person, and he really had trouble communicating." Mike
NOTE: The traditional ironworking and smelting in Bitchabe are interesting. Apparently, the Peace Corps has been coming to this village for many decades. Togo is known for its Fetish Markets, and the practice of Voodoo. I wonder If these fairies are part of those beliefs? Lon
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