It was originally called The Emporium and while it bore that name it remained a curious but much underused retail outlet on Kingsland High Street. During those early days its proprietor, Papa Legba, could often be seen standing at its glass door looking wistfully at the indifferent passers-by making their way to MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Ridley Road market or the shopping arcade. The Emporium's crowded and untidy window display of books, plaster icons, bottled herbs and lucky charms were not on anybody's shopping list. Papa Legba was new to the retailing business but he was no fool. Squat and stocky with a complexion similar to the colour of cinnamon bark, he always wore a white ankle length Kaftan; and his thick convex spectacles, slight stoop, huge forehead and an untidy head of grey hair~ gave him an air of owlish wisdom. There was substance to this appearance: Papa Legba had travelled to many lands and possessed the gift of tongues. He spoke flawless English, all the major European languages; and so many African languages and dialects that he himself often forgot his knowledge of a tongue until somebody addressed him in it.



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