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Welcome by dancersTogo was first settled by the Germans in the 1800's, then later turned over to the French. Togo won its independence from France in 1958. French is still the official language but many people speak some English.

We were welcomed to Lome by a group of musicians and dancers. Leaving the port we drove along the beachfront and watched as groups of people dragged large fishing nets from the water. Unlike other West African countries we visited, we didn't see any buses on the highway. Instead, there were motor bikes everywhere, usually with two people on them. We learned these serve as taxis.Women with their burdens Like the other countries, stalls are set up on the street and women are walking along with buckets on their heads and babies on their backs.


Independence SquareOur first stop was to Independence Square where there is a beautiful monument dedicated to people who fought against colonization. The man's arms are raised as though breaking his shackles. A woman carries a torch and faces east to signify a new day is born.


Bush VillageWe then drove for about an hour into the bush. This is a lush area that is the agriculture center of Togo, with huge forests of Teak, Palms, Kapok, coffee and cocoa and various fruit trees as well as crops like yams, peppers. Bush SchoolWe visited a bush school that was originally built by the village before the government started building schools for the children. The school rooms are thatched roof, open air dwellings with rudimentary benches and tables. The children were very excited to see us, singing and dancing and showing off their studies. Some were learning French, others were doing math. We walked through their village which has mostly adobe dwellings with thatched roofs and common outdoor cooking areas.

Welcome from village chiefOur final stop was to a mountain village of one of the native tribes. We were greeted by the chief of the village, then the villagers performed a dance that celebrates a successful harvest.Celebrating the harvest Our guide explained that Togolese people believe in a supreme God, but believe he is too great to be addressed directly. So they have other lesser gods they revere, including storms, harvest, etc. And they believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors are still around so they have rituals around that belief. Voodoo is commonly practiced and one of the tours was to a voodoo ceremony, but we decided we really didn't want to see a chicken sacrificed!

This was a very interesting tour though it was a long drive out and back. The worst part was the bus driver constantly used his horn to alert anyone walking or riding along the side of the road that he was coming through. And the horn was loud and shrill. No sleeping on this bus! Thankfully it was air conditioned as it was quite hot and humid out in the sun.

To view more photos from Lome, please go to Togo Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Cotonou, Benin.




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