Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Togo - Mia do go!

It's time to say goodbye to Togo!  I've just realised that I've spent the past two months blogging about Togo, which is an incredibly long time (note to self - blog a bit faster in future!!)

Anyway, it's been an interesting journey and I've learned a lot about Africa, languages, Dead Aid and phosphorus.  As usual with my final blog I want to highlight some of the other things I learned along the way, but didn't have time to blog about.  I learned that:

The largest religious belief in Togo is indigenous beliefs, unlike other African countries, Christians and Muslims are both minorities. 

Often in Togolese villages there are no doors to knock on, so people usually clap to let you know that they've come to visit.

Blacksmiths are revered in West African societies and masks play an important part in traditional rituals.

The Ewe people worship the female-male moon twins Mawu-lisa and they are also famous for their 'talking drums' the vu gbe.

Togo was one of the first Allied victories in World War One. 

Lome wasn't the capital of Togo during the colonial period, as the capital of German Togoland was at Aneho.  Togo's second largest city is Sokode. 

I learned about the stilt dancers of Atakpame and the Taberma people of Northern Togo and Benin who are famous for their fortified dwellings.  When a son gets old enough he shoots an arrow from his father's house and wherever it lands, he will construct his own house, known as a tata

I learned that children in West Africa are often named after the day of the week on which they were born.  Kofi is a popular boys' name and means 'Friday'.

I learned about Le Mouvement Togolais pour la Democratie which is Togo's exiled opposition movement. 

I learned that the Pope John Paul II visited Togo in the early 80's.

I learned that in some traditions a stillborn baby's hand is cut off, to stop it from returning to the womb and creating another cycle of miscarriage.

I learned about mianta-mianta, a fern that reacts quickly to the human touch.  

I learned about the monster Ague and how reptiles are believed by the Mina tribe to be the 'children of the earth' because they touch the earth with their whole bodies when they move.

I learned that France is called Yovode, literally 'white man's country'. 

Most of all I learned that I have still got a lot to learn about West Africa and the countries there - I look forward to my next 'journey' to that part of the world. 

Image credits:

The image of the young boys playing on a street in Lome was taken by flickruser * hiro008 aka Dietmar Temps.  Dietmar is from Cologne in Germany and works in the communication media.  He also has experience working as a photographer for film crews and television. 

You can find out more about Dietmar's work at his website  Thanks to Dietmar for sharing this wonderful image with us, using the Creative Commons License. 
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