for ISKCON News on Feb. 26, 2011
Bhaktivedanta College principal Yadunandana Swami recently completed a twenty-day Sankirtana expedition to Cape Verde, a cluster of ten islands 570 kilometers off the coast of West Africa.
It was the first time that Krishna consciousness had been systematically presented in the country, which was a Portuguese colony from the sixteenth century—when it was discovered by the Portuguese—until it became independent in 1975.
Meeting with fifteen devotees in Lisbon, Portugal, soon after departing Cape Verde on February 4th, Yadunanadana Swami shared stories of his trip with them, accompanied by a slideshow and a delicious prasadam feast.
He explained how, along with a team of four other devotees—Radha Govinda Dasa, Dina Sharana Dasa, and Rupa Vilasa Dasa—and sponsored by the financial support of devotees in Radhadesh, Benelux, Barcelona, and Portugal, he had performed more than ten public street Harinamas in Praia and Mindelo, the two main cities of Cape Verde.
He and his team also distributed one hundred copies of the Bhagavad Gita, 675 of Krishna: The Source of Pleasure, 400 of On the Way to Krishna, and 400 of Krishna Consciousness, the Topmost Yoga System.
“The Bhagavad-gitas were distributed to public libraries, including the National Library, the Government Library and the country’s twenty Municipal Libraries,” Yadunandana Swami says. “It was also presented to leading government members, scholars, and some religious authorities, journalists, and celebrities.”
Devotees personally met with the Bishop of Cape Verde, the Minister of Higher Education, Culture and Science, the Director of Staff of the Ministry of Youth, the Councilor of Culture in Mindelo, the legal advisor to the Prime Minister, and well-known musician and composer Vasco Martins. They also presented Bhagavad-gitas to the President of Cape Verde, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Youth through their representatives.
The small books, meanwhile, were mainly distributed to University or pre-University students, as well as members of the public who showed interest during Harinama street chanting and public lectures.
“We held nineteen lectures and programs during our stay,” says Yadunandana Swami. “Three were in universities—the University Lusofona de Mindelo, the University of Cabo Verde, and the University of Mindelo. We also spoke to seven different groups of secondary school students, and held programs in the
National Library auditorium, three cultural centers, two youth associations, and three other locations. We also had two favorable radio interviews.”
Twelve hundred prasadam sweet balls, more than ten boxes of sweets for VIPs, a prasadam feast, and two pots of halava for sixty people were distributed during these public lectures and other outreach events.
“Several people eagerly asked us when we planned to return,” says Yadunandana Swami. “Some of them bought japa beads to chant on, and we sold all the books we had brought with us. A few people, who seemed to be candidates for serious commitment to devotional service, gave us their contact information.”
Yadunandana Swami notes that interestingly, as Cape Verde became independent only thirty-five years ago, it was not included on the ISKCON Governing Body Commission’s zonal assignments list, which assigned different ISKCON leaders to spread Krishna consciousness in different parts of the world.
“Several more places like this may remain around the world,” he says. “We need to spot these places and send our Sankirtana missionaries there.”
Yadunandana Swami expresses his gratitude to the core team of devotees who participated in the Cape Verde expedition, and to all the devotees who contributed towards books and prasadam distribution.
“Many seeds of bhakti [devotion] have been planted in the hearts of many Cape Verdeans,” he says. “We have experienced that, without a doubt, Cape Verde is a fertile field in which the Krishna consciousness movement can be established and developed.”