'We All Have Five Fingers'
In conjunction with Sherwood Rotary Club's effort to promote peace and the Sherwood Library, local commercial photographer Janis Miglavs will give a visual presentation of his life-changing adventures during his 17-year quest to find the roots of his personal beliefs and religion in the birthplace of modern humans, Africa.
Titled "We All Have Five Fingers," the visual experience will be at the Sherwood Public Library Community Room at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 6.
While learning tribal stories, myths and archetypal dreams from the shamans, chiefs, elders and witch doctors of Africa's most remote tribes, Miglavs found commonalities with all of today's religions.
But he personally experienced hatred seeping from today's religious believers. One chilling encounter came when his Senegalese interpreter wanted to kill Miglavs if he said anything derogatory about the interpreter's religion. Yet, Miglavs will tell stories of how over and over curious little children, who rarely saw foreigners, completely erased the adult hatred with their innocent acceptance of the outsider.
Miglavs's quest started after seeing one of his photographs on a billboard in 1999. As a professional photographer, instead of being excited, he felt completely empty inside. He needed to do more than just make money. He needed something that gave him purpose in life.
Suddenly, he found himself in Senegal, Africa, searching for a small remote tribe that even most Senegalese didn't know existed. Over the years, he sought out 12 other isolated tribes. His thinking was simple. Since DNA and anthropologists tell us all modern humans walked out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, Miglavs figured these people might have threads to the primal stories that our ancestors told to answer the big questions of life, like what happens after we die or is there a God?
He went to places where he didn't see outsiders for weeks. He pitched his little tent in the far-off villages.
What secrets did Miglavs find? Did he find the Garden of Eden-like roots to his own beliefs and religion?
Travel with him to Africa's least touched tribes. See a powerful shaman, who had never held a pencil before, do a drawing of what he saw while in a trance. Hear sacred stories and archetypal dreams that had never been recorded before. Stories and beliefs that might have direct threads to the ancient stories our ancestors told before they left Africa some 60,000 years ago.
One of the most powerful lessons Miglavs learned came from a Konso tribal elder on the mountainous slopes of remote Ethiopia. The man didn't really know about the United States. Yet when Miglavs asked him what advice he would give world leaders, he slowly replied: "We are all made by God. No matter what your tribe, no matter what your religion, no matter what your beliefs, we all bleed the same color blood."
Then he raised his hand with outstretched fingers and concluded: "We all have five fingers."
Miglavs is a Latvian-American photographer, writer and storyteller most noted for his work with myths and archetypal dreams of the most remote African tribes and vineyards/wineries of the world, most recently those in China. His clients include National Geographic, Nikon, Wine Spectator and Fortune 500 companies. He lives in Sherwoodwith his wife, Eddi — founder of MudPuddles Toys and Books — and close to his family.