Togo is the country next door to Benin to the left. The kingdoms of Benin, back in the days, came actually from Togo. 7.5 million people, small country.
Former german colony, they left wonderful infrastructure (up to today the bridges that are still there: built by the germans… the roads that are still there: german too) and a big selection of very good beer (contrary to Benin that only has La Beninoise and it is not that good really…)
Beaufort makes me laugh because its billboards are like, at the top of the Everest… in a country where almost no family has a refrigerator at home. You turn around and see nothing like that… still is a good memory of my dear Canada, especially now in wintertime.
In the past 2 months I have crossed twice to Togo: One to the north and the other one to Lome, the capital on the south coast. The northern border is almost a joke… a piece of cord hanging from one side to the other, a sleepy officer and two hens crossing back and forth. Ah! but they reclaim their 20,000 francs for visa and fill all your information by hand in dusty yellow double-linned notebook pages. Need to use the washroom? Literally: behind the tree.
Well, last month we went North of Togo to a celebration and did we celebrate! Drums drums drums non-stop day and night, lots of color and smiles and good food!
As most homes don’t have running water, your hosts will bring you a pitcher TO YOUR SIT, so you can wash your hands. Since we eat with the hands here, they are always clean!
The North of Togo is semi-arid with a heavy muslim population. The traditional houses are called tatas and they are made of clay with palmtree roofs, very stereotypical. Usually they come together with a topless woman or several naked children running among the goats.
LOME is the capital city on the south coast. It is small and charming. Well traced (germans, again) and much more organized in all senses than Cotonou (germans? vs french… probably yes)
Then we have Togoville, which is about 45 mins from Lome. There is a La Salle school and my friends work there. Togoville is a small town, next to a lake, you have to cross in a pirogue to arrive. My pirogue was called Titanic… I should have taken a picture
Togoville is the craddle of Togo voodoo, and in the moment you descend your pirogue, the gigantic fetiche greets you welcome
And then as you continue walking around the small town, you find the smaller fetiches greeting you along the way. A bit creepy for an outsider of the voodoo tradition as me.
Well, the school is fetiche-free and super big! They have with no doubt the biggest sport facilities around, and they share them with the community during the weekends. There is a boarding home for boys and another for girls who come from other places to study to this school. Here the 2 kids (15 years old and look at that height!) who were my welcome committee:
Togoville is also well known by its Marian Sanctuary (where voodoo and catholicism meet): Notre Dame du Lac – a beautiful church with a shrine there for Mary overseeing the lake. Did I mention that Togo means “By the lake” (this lake).
And sad as I was to leave beautiful Togo behind, I was consoled by the inevitable stop at Come (a Beninoise city between Lome and Cotonou) famous for its ablo… to eat ablo. But ablo and other food charms in another post.