Thursday, February 6, 2014



I woke up this morning to a text from Kader telling me that the chief of Nampoch died in a moto accident.  I first met him when I visited Nampoch during stage.  I did not say a whole lot because he spoke good French and I was somewhat intimidated.  At the time I was doing good to be able to ask where the bathroom was in French.  He said he had three names in Konkumba picked out for me.  I chose Nighan because it was easiest for me to pronounce.  Later I found out that it means "it is good." 

I did not have a lot of personal contact with my chief during my service; our spheres of interest were different.  He was young and energetic so he spent a lot of time involved in the politics of Dankpen prefecture.    That being said though, he was always supportive of my work in Nampoch.  His motivation was one of the main reasons why Nampoch was chosen to be a Peace Corps post.  When I wanted to hold a match for my girls' football team, he got people to go clear the field.  I remember being impressed by how enthusiastic he was about girls education.  Then I found out that his older daughters were excelling in high school. 

The chief was not perfect by any means.  I'd see him at bars in Kouka with his girlfriends and political buddies.  But then I also saw him sitting in his house and comforting his toddler after she freaked out when I stopped by.  I saw him cheering with his family during his twins' naming ceremony. He tried to make his community a better place.

The last time I saw the chief was the day before I left Nampoch.  Kodjo and I went over to his house for my 'official' goodbye.  It was a strange mirroring of the first time I had met the chief during post visit.  I remember thinking there was more gray in his hair then there was 3 years earlier.  He thanked me for all I had done for Nampoch, then told me "Daniel, you will always be here with us in spirit." And I told him, "you will always be with me in spirit too."  Now, from on top of a red Boxer moto, that has become more true. 

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