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2000 Nov by Michael Novins
November 2000 -- I visited Togo while traveling overland from Cotonou, Benin to Accra, Ghana. The most interesting site in Lome, Togo's capital, was Akodessewa fetish market, reputedly the world's largest, with an array of animal skulls, skins, teeth and feathers. |
1992 Sep by Jorge Sanchez
Early in the morning I took a bus in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and several hours later I entered Togolese territory.|
The situation in Togo was red hot. The whole country was in general indefinite strike. They demanded the resignation of the military dictator, the establishment of a democratic regime. Until they do so, it would be complete shutdown of all activities or transportation, or trade, or sale of gasoline, or services, post office, etc. The driver of my bus, Burkinabe nationality, was frightened and tried to drop all passengers in a town halfway. It was necessary to threaten him and in the end he agreed to take us to the capital Male.
In Male, garbage abounded in the streets. All shops were closed, except for a supermarket selling imported products at prices very expensive, which could only afford foreigners and rich blacks, who wore ties and at five in the afternoon made a halt in their work for tea. The beggars were a plague and criminals’ people were lurking. Military patrols with weapons in hand, were ready to shoot.
Given these scenes I decided to stay at a Catholic mission that accepted travelers despite the strike. The price charged corresponded to a cheap hotel: about 1000 CFA or 4 US Dollars at that time. Sometimes, when the priest was Spanish, they refused my payment.
I left my bag in the bedroom of the mission and went for a ride in direction to the beach. I looked forward to reach by land to the Gulf of Guinea overland from the Mediterranean, having studied that the first European to do this was one of my favorite travelers with whom I was fairly identified: Gerhard Rohlfs. He was born near Bremen in 1831, the son of a doctor.
It was therefore reminding Rohlfs that I approached the beach, despite the advice against that of the boys of the mission. I was very pleased to see the sea, that meant that half of the first leg of my journey was accomplished and, after all, not many disasters, apart from the danger of crossing the Sahara and being captured by the Tuaregs but released after paying them some baksheesh.
I sat under a coconut tree to savor the feeling of having crossed half of Africa overland, when a few hundred meters away I noticed several boys on their way to me with suspicious purposes. My sixth sense warned me.
A young man came first and asked me a cigarette. I said that I did not smoke, and then the other companions came running towards me.
That was the moment to run back to the Catholic Mission and when I stopped at the opened supermarket, protected by armed men, the boys went away.
I had escaped to a robbery. Poverty is the mother of crime, and was more than likely that these young people would be hungry.
The next day I went to visit the famous Fetish Market.
The fetish market was also on strike, but as many of the wizards of Beninese nationality lived there, I visited anyway.
The shops were selling carcasses of rats, goats, birds, dogs, frogs, salamanders dissected, buffalo horns, etc.. And there were in exhibition many wooden fetishes showing the sex organ overly pronounced.
Soon a witch proposed me to buy a fetish, but I gently refused.
We sat on an old carpet on the floor. The sorcerer asked me to buy for 100 CFA coconut palm wine for a ceremony. I pad him and some minutes later he drank some wine and then spit over a fetish called Abgalasi. It was the largest of all the fetishes, human looking but covered with feathers with drops of fresh blood, obtained by sacrificing a chicken a few minutes earlier. Next to that fetish there was another one, smaller, human-like, called Sudeme. In front were two wooden lions and several dolls. All showed blooded feathers causing sinister feelings. The sorcerer said to me that these fetishes were from the west of Nigeria, the birthplace of voodoo.
The witch was in her thirties, and professed the religion called Animism, from where voodoo comes, that was brought to America by African slaves.
After a while talking with him, I left and came back to the Catholic Mission.
The next day I walked to the outskirts of the city and I hitchhiked to the border with Benin. After some time a motorbike stopped, asked me 500 CFA and left me at the border with Benin.
1990 Dec by Veikko Huhtala*
We had Aeroflot flight via Moscow and Malta to Lome. We stayed two nights in this Gulf of Guinea city and the capital of Togo. Lome was not bad place to stay, at least I liked more than Accra, where we travelled by local bus from Lome.|
Togo is French speaking country and got its independence in 1960 from France.