Last week I spent several days in the American Southwest, visiting the pueblos of the Navajo and Anasazi peoples who first lived here 700 years ago, long before the United States existed. Though their adobe houses and traditions were unique to them, there was much about the place that reminded me of Southern Sudan today. One of the oft-pictured pueblo symbols is Kokopelli, the flute-player. His playful form survives in stories and on ancient petroglyphs near Albuquerque.
After hiking in the Petroglyph National Park in the blazing 100 degree sunshine to snap photos of Kokopelli drawings on the volcanic rocks, I recalled this photo of a boy making music from a flute fashioned from an old pipe. I took the picture in Kuron, Sudan, two years ago. Though 10,000 miles separate Albuquerque from Kuron, this young boy's name could be Kokopelli. The spirit is the same.